BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:
Nyajai GardensChicago, Illinois
ABOUT THE BUSINESS / ORGANIZATION:Nyajai Gardens follows the life of a fearless young, Black female gardener based on the South Side of Chicago. Gardening is my therapy.
As a young black girl growing up in Chicago, there were countless times when I lacked food and peace of mind. As I grew older and finally gained the independence I'd always yearned for, I realized that my life and my destiny are in my own hands. Health = Wealth. Gardening allows me to grow my own food and take control of my health. More importantly, it allows me to nourish and feed my community. Gardening is therapeutic and it gets rid of any concerns that one may have about eating.
Gardening is also fun and such a joy to be involved with. I love all things gardening! From planting seeds and seeing those tiny green lives sprout into beautiful, colorful fruits and vegetables to gifting myself and my community with the seed-to-plate experience, the joys of gardening are endless. My purpose and passion is to share this joy with others through my experience. I captivate my audience's attention and make gardening fun and engaging by sharing my own gardening adventures on social media, in person, and on several other platforms. I enlighten others on the joys and benefits of gardening and motivate them to empower and embrace their green thumb by making gardening fun. Whether it's through a parody music video about gardening or fun gardening advice, making sure that others have the knowledge about gardening is my mission.
THE STORY:On May 13, 2020, I became the owner of my first property - a 3-unit building with a large backyard. That same weekend, I was breaking ground, digging and pulling up long roots from the space that was soon to be my garden. My friends and I flipped my backyard upside down, built three raised beds, designed a hydroponics set, and planted several vegetables and fruits. Greens, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, aloe vera, eggplant, tomatillos, basil, cilantro ... you name it, I grew it with pride. If I wasn't growing it, it was only a matter of time before I was starting seed for it.
Many people tried to talk me out of gardening; their reasoning was that it would require extensive, consistent labor. But the whole point of gardening is to enjoy the fruit of your labor, right? When I was looking to purchase my property, I would not put an offer in on the place unless it had a nice spacious backyard for me to cultivate. Did I have any gardening experience? Absolutely NOT. But there was a burning desire in my heart to garden that just wouldn't leave and that I just couldn't escape or ignore. So, I just took a leap of faith!
I believed that I could grow my own food, help nourish my community and work my way towards a plant-based diet. Fast forward to a couple of months later, I was blessed and fortunate to harvest baskets and baskets of organic fruits and vegetables that I grew with love. Today, aspiring gardeners seek my help with their gardens or advice, and I'm more than happy to assist in any way that I can. The more gardeners we have in our community, the fewer people are challenged with hunger and starvation.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS / ACCOLADES / AWARDS:Although some may consider me a rookie gardener, I'm proud to have been featured in ABC News Chicago for my experience. My parody videos are well received on social media. WAP (Wild A** Peppers) received nearly 250,000 views on Facebook, 13,000 views on Instagram, and nearly 7,000 views on YouTube.
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC64htujbH7xiyZbX92eRQcg/videos
Outside of gardening, I've been nominated for several awards through my stage productions such as Best Lead Actress in a Drama for Amadeus and Detroit '67. I also made my first feature film debut with the movie Survival Guide, which was released on Amazon in late 2020.
ADVICE:The best advice I've ever received was when I was in 6th grade. One day in school, I'd taken a test and after second-guessing myself, I erased all of my answers and changed them to something else. I ended up receiving a big fat "D"on that test. My teacher could see that I'd erased my original answers, which were correct. She wrote on the paper, "Maybe if you followed your first mind, you would be more successful" or something along those lines. I have always had a hard time listening to myself and trusting my gut instincts.
As an adult, my teacher's comment on my nearly failing test follows me everywhere I go. The more I listen to myself, the more I realize that it's worth doing so. Listening to myself and trusting myself allows me to stay grounded and confident. Many people may think they have the answers for you and your life, The truth is, only you know what's best for you. Follow your instincts. You have them for a reason.
HEROES:The first people that come to mind when I'm asked "Who are your heroes?", I think of:
My mom. Despite already being a teenage mom, she decided to give birth to another beautiful baby girl - me. Of course, times were not easy, especially with the lack of a basic support system. However, we've defeated all odds together. Her strength, love, and laughter remind me that everything is going to be alright and that a new day brings a new opportunity.
My grandfather. He calls me his "in spite of" granddaughter. The unconditional love that he shows me, the words of wisdom he continues to pour into me, and the respectful legacy he has created for himself and our family, fuels me with the motivation and belief I need to move forward.
Last but certainly not least, I think of God. Every day, God protects me, provides for me, loves me unconditionally, and answers my prayers nonstop. Every day, I am reminded that God is my hero.
CONTACT INFORMATION:Mobile: (773) 354-6026