Years in Tampa Bay
What do you do?
Converting empty lots to valuable garden space in St. Petersburg, with a focus on lettuces, baby greens and root veggies for local families and restaurants.
Why do you do it?
I think it's important to know where your food comes from. It's a huge benefit to have access to locally sourced food, to have it come from as close as possible to where it will be eaten and utilized. I like to grow food, I like to be outside, I like getting dirty, so if I can support myself, make a living while doing those things and benefit the community, that's a really big motivator.
What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)
Many years ago I dabbled in raised beds in my own yard, I volunteered at local farms, and then eventually what sparked this endeavor was building a great relationship with my current landlord, who let me rip the sod off my front lawn and go through the trial and error of turning it into a functioning farm. When everything went well, I started trying to find more land and more space to continue to grow within the community.
What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?
The biggest question I get is probably "where is your farm; may I come for a visit?" The short answer is no. Urban farming is fragmented, throughout the area we have about 9,000 square feet of space, but it's spread out on different properties, there are multiple lots around town, and these came from building relationships with those individuals. And we value those relationships. We also have to work within the current codes and legislation, which is why we sell at the markets.
What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?
Mother Nature! Learning that there are many variables that I cannot control when it comes to the weather. Last year there was a drought, this year has been mild but rainy, trying to stay on top of all the things I can control, but at the same time, knowing that one change of the weather could make or break a whole crop.
What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?
Work hard, stay organized, and plan for as much as you can. Since this is on the hustle, you've got to hustle and work hard. This is a new concept for this area, I have to listen to podcasts, read articles, and stay up to date on the successes of those who are doing this in other areas successfully. You really have to keep grinding even when it gets tough.