Patricia Holland, an avid gardener and Riverwest resident, is renting a community garden bed at the Victory Garden Urban Farm this season. We sat down with her at the Victory Garden Urban Farm to learn more about why she participates in the community garden here. Her passion for growing food started when she was a little girl growing up in Mississippi. She helped her mother in the garden then and fondly remembers her trips to the garden to get some Okra. “When I was a little girl, my mom sent me out to get okra for breakfast. The plant was taller than I was, this tall (raising her hand above her waist), unlike the tiny. I was like I gotta get that last piece of okra. I told my mother that I broke the stalk of okra at the top of it but it was still blooming. I broke the stalk but I got the okra. I got what she wanted. So from then on I started gardening.”, Patricia recited the story with a smile on her face and the golden glow of the setting sun.
For Patricia, the ‘why’ of growing food is simple — “I just love gardening to feed people. There are so many hungry people out here that don’t need to be hungry” — and feed hungry people she does. Patricia is a constant face and leader at the Riverwest Food Pantry plot at the Farm, where all the produce grown there is donated to the Pantry. Just this season they have distributed hundreds of pounds of produce from the plot. In addition to working in the garden, she also helps with food demonstrations at the pantry.
Community gardens grow more than just food, according to Patricia. It’s a place to build community and get to know your neighbors. Earlier in the season, she and several other community gardeners hosted a volunteer day at the Farm with a meal after. “We all got along and cooked out here. We wanted to bring the neighborhood in. You know, and I think it was awesome.” The community gardeners also take care of each other. “We come over here and we mow around everybody’s plots whether they here or not… And that’s what we’re for. Help each other. We all can get along, just get along.” The garden is also a space for families. They can “come in and bring their kids and then, you know just explore this beautiful land out here. It would be so good for the community” because “we need more people to get involved with this. We need more people to garden or teach their kids how to garden. It’s fundamental.”
Patricia’s passion is clear as she speaks of growing food and building community. “We need to eat to live… What we grow, we eat.” Patricia brings many helping hands and smiling faces to the Victory Garden Urban Farm and we are thankful to her for all that she does.