Couple creates garden in Uptown neighborhood to address fresh food scarcity

Bright Spot

In the Greenlaw community, Bobby Rich and his wife Derravia are gardeners. Here, old memories are growing into new ones.

“Bobby got a chance to start working in my grandfather’s garden. The same garden I grew up in,” Derravia said.

Derravia has been exposed to planting fresh foods since she was a child. Now working in agriculture, she’s shared her passion with Bobby.

“I surprised her and grew a row of okra,” Bobby said.

Her family brought him into this lifestyle. Her grandfather taught her uncles and her uncles taught Bobby.

“Holistically, we need this,” Derravia said. “There are so many health benefits to just the natural outdoors sit and play.”

They soon realized the lack of healthy food options in neighborhoods like uptown.

So, they found a grassy, open space planted in between houses. They transformed the plot from an empty canvas into a vibrant garden.

They named their garden, Black seeds.

“We not only want people to get a new outlook on what they eat but where it’s grown,” Derravia said.  

This work means a lot to Bobby, and he’s now a master gardener.  He said digging to plant produce is his therapy.

For him, it’s an escape from some of what he sees on a day to day.

“It really pulls on my heart strings because I work in these neighborhoods. I serve the community and I’m on Riverside, I’m in Orange Mound, I’m in places people call the hood,” Bobby said.

Bobby is also a firefighter. He loves gardening so much that he began to bring fruits and vegetables to the fire station and piquing an interest in his colleagues.

“Since they’ve seen how passionate I am, they’ve built a garden bed in the back now they have no meat Monday’s and I’m like (points),” Bobby said excitedly.

Spreading the word about the value of nutrition in fresh produce is working.

Not only is it a relaxing way for bobby to wind down after a long stressful day, it’s a way to show people that representation matters.

“As men and as black men in particular, if I can just say this, we are evolving as well. How we identify ourselves as men so this whole chest out macho man, I’m a firefighter.” Bobby said.

“Yeah, I’m a firefighter, I save lives and do all that, but I also grow my own food and there’s nothing wrong with the marrying of those two concepts.”

In fact, there is so much “right” with this.

Black seeds isn’t just a garden. It’s an event space with lounge areas. It is a way for neighbors to come together in fellowship and learn something new.

That’s what Derravia remembers about her family’s garden. She remembers the visitors eating and smelling the foods.

Black seeds garden is shining a light on the community, a full circle moment for the Riches. It is truly a community Bright Spot.

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