Tari is a middle-aged entrepreneur mum. Tari had always been captivated by the beauty of nature and realized she had the proverbial 'Green Fingers' for real. However, living in a terrace apartment complex with her family left her with limited access to green spaces to explore her gardening passion.
Her determination left her with no other option but to begin exploring in earnest how she could awaken and put to good use her burning passion for gardening. Looking back, Tari realized she had acquired this passion way back as a young teenager while growing up with her garden-loving Aunt (her late father's sister). Though Aunt Liz was the headmistress at the staff school and they lived on the university campus premises, Aunt Liz ensured that as a family, they maintained a home garden where they grew flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Soon and sure enough, Tari picked up her aunt's gardening skills and took to tending the garden with her aged aunt. That was how Tari took on the gardening legacy that had been "handed down" from her beloved grandmother, to her Aunt Liz, and now to her.
ON A JOURNEY
Now fast forward to many years after, where Tari now has her own family. She is determined to reconnect with her love for gardening, to keep upholding the "green finger legacy" that was handed down from two generations before her...
Determined, Tari embarks on a journey to discover how she could make her dream of a home garden a reality, despite the constraints of having no access to green gardening space, save for bricks and paved structures. Tari knew it would require intentional organization and modern skills. Not one to give up easily, she decided she would give it her very best and use her organizing skills to figure out a way around this challenge.
She set out to do some research. Along the line, she discovered what was required to make this dream a reality. Living in a modern urban estate, she soon discovered she needed to go beyond a mere hobby to becoming a relevant life skill and a sustainable venture.
Confident she was up to the task, Tari kicked off her quest by signing up for a WhatsApp group, a small community of about 20 women which a friend had introduced her to. This passionate group of women collaborated to buy seeds/seedlings. They also freely shared unlimited ideas on urban gardening and resources for growing their own food organically within the limited spaces of their urban homes. Tari decided her motto would be: "One fruit, one vegetable, and one herb at a time." She immersed herself in online resources shared by other gardeners across social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
Soon enough, her gardening expeditions became the talk among her friends and neighbors. Some laughed while others wondered how on earth she could pull it off.
Tari kept at it and soon acquired a wealth of knowledge about soil composition, plant diseases, plant nutrition, watering techniques, etc. With her newfound understanding of urban gardening, she soon set out to expand her garden, which hitherto had been restricted to her kitchen window sill, with just a few herbs. She graduated to planting vegetables in containers and bags. She spread out to the rear foyer of her terrace apartment and expanded to the side and front porch. The feeling of triumph she felt was out of this world! In no time at all, Tari was well on her way to growing what she called her very own "mini home orchard"! She planted dwarf fruit trees and vegetables in large pots and plastic drums.
There was no stopping her - no container ever went to waste in her home anymore. Everything was repurposed to grow pots for use in her garden. Meanwhile, her kitchen window sill still bore her pots of herbs.
THE SWEET TASTE OF TRIUMPH
Tari's greatest joy in all of this was the beautiful experience of being able to reach out with ease to pluck a herb or two as she prepped her meals. She had always loved to cook, but now, the motivation was sky-high because she loved nothing better than to use her organically grown produce in her cooking.
She co-opted her children as she often got them to assist with mulching, watering, harvesting, and whatever was needed. It reminded her that this was just the way it was when she lived with her dear Aunt Liz. That taste of freshly-plucked herbs, tomatoes, and veggies was priceless. Knowing the source was trusted made her feel amazing.
Now even her teas were brewed with fresh herbs and leaves from her home garden. Soon, friends and neighbors became willing and excited partakers of fresh produce from her urban home garden.
WHERE THERE'S A HOME...
Fast forward a few years later, and Tari moved home again, this time to a more spacious home. Tari continues to live by and uphold "the green finger legacy". She continues to grow as much of her family's food as their living space allows her to. Her children are now teenagers and less engaged with the gardening process, but they're still happy to support her with gardening tasks. Tari's current dilemma is to ensure "the green finger legacy" doesn't end with her. Recently, they humored her when she asked them to accompany her to gather some freshly cut grass from the estate playground. That small victory gave her a slice of hope. Tari has her fingers crossed that one of her children will catch the gardening bug.
And so, with a few pots, potting soil, and seeds, Tari started carefully planting and growing a small variety of vegetables and herbs. As she watered and nurtured her plants each day, she marveled at the transformation taking place right before her eyes.
Days have turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, and Tari's mini home garden has become a thriving oasis of greenery. Her once-dull surroundings now burst with life, filling the air with the aroma of fresh basil, spring onions, parsley, mint leaf, etc.
WE MOVE, GARDEN MOVES
As Tari and her family relocate from one home space to the other over the years, she has continued to engage in tending a home garden and constantly gleaned nuggets from her WhatsApp urban gardening community and other global gardeners on social media. She has come to realize that gardening is more than just growing plants. It is a skill that has taught her patience, perseverance, and responsibility. Tari learned the art of starting afresh every time they moved to a new home space and additionally learned to observe the needs of her plants, understanding the subtle signs of thirst or disease, etc.
NATURE MEETS NURTURE
For her, gardening has become a dance between nature and nurture, where she plays the key role of both caretaker and student at the same time.
Though the quantity of her produce won't sufficiently feed her family, she's elated that it reduces the amount of inorganic food they buy off the shelf. She's discovered that gardening also fosters a sense of community. She has joined local gardening clubs in her new home space and connected with like-minded individuals via social media who share their experiences and knowledge with her as she shares hers with them. Together, they exchange tips, swap seeds and ideas, and celebrate the joys of growing their own food garden.
She has adapted her skills at each stage, learning about crop rotation, companion planting, and organic pest control. Through trial and error, she has discovered what works best for her plants and the environment in which she lives.
Friends and neighbors now approach her, marveling and asking for advice on how to start their gardens. She always gladly shares her knowledge, eager to inspire them to embrace gardening as a life skill. She explains how gardening provides a sustainable source of fresh food, reduces stress, and improves mental well-being. Sometimes, she would go the extra mile to package a small harvest of seeds to share with them and visits their homes to help them set up and start growing their gardens.
Tari's gardening skills have continued to flourish, and her passion for cultivating things has grown stronger. She realizes that gardening not only fulfills her personally but also contributes to a greener world.
In terms of contributing to a greener world, with her newfound expertise, she volunteers to support children in her residential estate at their Kids Summer Plant-A-Tree exercise, where she will be teaching children about the wonders of gardening and the importance of connecting with nature.
DEALING WITH GRIEF
As the seasons in Tari's life changed over the years, so did her gardening style and pattern. Just recently, at the end of the first quarter of 2023, to be precise, Tari lost an older sibling who was so dear to her heart. She has since then struggled with balancing her grief and keeping up with her daytime career and entrepreneurial business. She lost all zeal and inspiration to work. The one activity that has been truly therapeutic and has helped her deal with the pain of her loss has been her home garden. Her family can see how much it has helped her gradually cope with her loss. It has given her a reason to wake up each day and to keep going.
Tari has discovered that gardening is not merely a pastime but a therapeutic, relevant life skill that has empowered her and those around her. It has taught her resilience, nurtured her spirit, and given her a profound appreciation for the natural world. With each seed she sows, she realizes that she is part of a larger cycle of growth and that through her gardening lifestyle, she is indeed making a positive impact on her life, the planet, and the lives of others.
BEYOND CULTIVATING CROPS
By the way, Tari's story is my story. I am Tari, and I hope that it serves as a reminder to us all that gardening is not just about cultivating plants; it is about nurturing our souls, finding expression when we need healing, embracing the beauty of nature, enriching our lives, and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.
----Photos from Cresta Durojaiye