Earth Day is about making the well-being of the Earth our business. For some people, that means something to pay attention to, like being more diligent about recycling or planting a tree.
For others it means business, and for two entrepreneurial women who make Earth their business, Earth Day is when most people get a taste of what they do all year long.
Take Amanda David from New York, owner of Rooting herbs, manager of a community medicine garden, and recent recipient of the $ 10,000 cash award accompanying the Made for More Small Business Award. For David, helping people reconnect with the Earth is a full-time job, particularly through growing herbs and medicinal products.
“The healing that comes from caring for plants in community is as old as mankind, so I don’t consider it a trend, however, I love seeing more and more people recovering it,” says David.
“This recovery is particularly powerful for inner-city people … and others who have systematically lost access to the land and thus the healing it offers.”
Urban community gardens, such as Food Forest at Browns Mill in Atlanta, they are rapidly growing in popularity across the country. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of community gardens in the U.S. increased 44%, for a total of 29,000 in 100 major cities.
Often this takes the form of garden plots in city parks, but it even started in the ruins of old properties. David manages one of these community gardens on Native American lands south of Ithaca, New York, and offers herbalism classes for people looking to connect with that tradition, as well as an apothecary where he sells herbal remedies.
“Community gardens are places of healing,” she says. “Connecting with the earth and being outdoors is healing, growing food and medicine is healing, having access to fresh local produce is healing, creating connections with other gardeners is healing, enjoying the beauty of a garden is healing.”
Her herbalism classes, to which she plans to dedicate her scholarship money, are a source of joy and learning for both her and the attendees.
“We facilitate many classes locally that attract people who explore various aspects of herbalism, from growing and harvesting to medicine making and community care,” she says.
“Our school of herbalism, the School of Popular Medicine and our mentoring program, We Care for Us, attract people interested in forming deep relationships with plants to take care of themselves and their community.”
Another of America’s community gardens is cared for by another Made for More Small Business Award winner, sponsored by Ball Home Canning Supplies. In the Over-the-Rhine (OTC) neighborhood of Cincinnati, America’s oldest community garden, started in 1980, is flourishing thanks to the leadership of Christina Matthews.
Founder of The Flower Lady LLC. his path to entrepreneurship began through his work with the OTC People’s Garden.
“Starting in 2014, I became the volunteer garden coordinator for the historic Over-the-Rhine Village Garden because I saw a great need for fresh fruits and vegetables around. [the neighborhood]”Says Christina.
“So in the fall of 2013, a very good friend of mine, who also lives in the neighborhood, and I decided to do something about the food shortage and together we successfully applied for a $ 10,000 grant from Cultivate Appalachia to help maintain the garden. “
From the earth to the flowers
Matthews’ plan was never to go into the flower shop business, but rather as a consequence of his work at the People’s Garden. For her, it was following her dreams and she took everything she learned in the garden seriously.
Now she sells custom flower arrangements, floral installations, garlands and more for any type of event, and supervises the decoration of fresh flowers in physical stores. She also offers gardening training for those looking to bring flowers into their world.
“I am very fortunate to be able to put all my time and energy into what I love: growing a business along with volunteering my time at Over-the-Rhine People’s Garden,” says Matthews.
“This fall I got involved with the City of Cincinnati Urban Agriculture program, and I just purchased a 1/3 acre lot to grow more flowers for the city I love so much,” he adds, responding to what he will do with his grant.
“This money will definitely help me with all the supplies I need to grow things like: soil, seeds, plants, pest deterrents, T-posts, organic fertilizers, labels and nets. I also plan to continue my free “Grow Your Business” gardening workshops with youth groups in the community garden. “
It’s not the most common way to celebrate Earth Day – celebrating the entrepreneurs who turn the Earth into a business – but these enjoyable stories of dream catching and gardening can make anyone happy digging a little in the dirt.
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