Meet Ivy Lawrence-Walls from Sunnyside, Houston, Texas, United States

“I am a budding farmer, community entrepreneur, and creative visionary. I moved to a food desert community and realized quickly that the produce in our grocery stores was absolutely unacceptable. I knew that I couldn’t just complain about it, I had to do something. So I got my shovel, some seeds and started growing for my neighbors and friends who live in the Sunnyside Community. This has moved from this simple exchange to a full working community farm.

I grow food because it is necessary for my community. Quality healthy food is not a privilege, it is a human right. I grow so that the senior citizens in my neighborhood don’t spend their last dollars on rotten vegetables and young children can know what sustainable eating is.

My farm is located on my family’s 5 acre farm and my growing area is currently half an Acre. This season I grew many types of zucchini, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, eggplants, carrots, spinach and watermelons. This fall I am preparing collard greens, mustard greens, herbs, lettuce, beets, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and so much more.

For managing pests, I use neem oil, neem oil and neem oil! I might be the neem oil queen! I source my seeds from a family company located in Rhode Island. I have also sourced from other black women-owned seed companies.

Lack of time and funds are my biggest challenges. I currently work full time and would love to spend all day working on increasing the grow area of the farm so I can meet the demand of my community. I received my nursery license and I currently sell house plants to help fund the farm. This keeps produce affordable for my fellow community members.

Knowing that everything I grow is going to the people that also call my neighborhood home is gratifying. Farming is also very relaxing mentally. I enjoy the benefits I get from just taking my shoes off and grounding with the soil.

The entire basis of my farm is for the community. I created a virtual seed exchange so that the online community can feel connected in the uncertain times.

Growing your own food is a start to a new life. Whenever you face hardship, just remember seeds push through the mud and turn into something beautiful.”