Under the blazing sun and humid air, Komoyaka King stands beside his overflowing garden. Beyond his large straw hat, he looks toward the tall, barbed wire that wraps his green wonderland.
The compost, farm chickens and food are their own little ecosystem — they all “feed each other,” King said.
He started this garden years ago to eat better quality foods. The food produced from his organic farm is without preservatives and contains more nutrients.
“My tomatoes off the vine don’t taste the same as the ones from the store; it’s the vitality,” he said.
His small but plentiful garden in Martindale-Brightwood has many herbs, greens, fruits and vegetables. This summer alone he is growing peppermint, sage, squash, zucchini, turnips, sweet potato greens, mustards, collards, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes and beets.
Along with the food he is raising eight chickens. He rarely sells produce. He often donates to the seniors at his church and gifts food to his family.
Next month, he will celebrate his 70th birthday. King’s choice to grow his own fruits and vegetables was both to save money and for his health. He is skeptical of the pesticides sprayed on the foods at grocery store chains.
The Chicago native said his garden has been a blessing for many reasons. It is an “inflation fighter” during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Rising gas and food prices have left King, who lives on a fixed income, with no choice but to rely more on his garden.
His advice for anyone who has an interest in starting their own garden is to utilize the space you have regardless of size. For a small living space with ample sunlight, he recommends a potted garden. But he said it depends on how extravagant you want to make your garden.
It is important to plant things you often buy from the grocery store. He suggests growing greens, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and cucumbers. These foods can be easily preserved by drying, canning or freezing.
Gardening has made King more frugal. The only increase he has seen in his budget is the water bill. But he said it is offset by the decrease in money spent on groceries.
Contact intern Mesgana Waiss at 317-762-7848 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @theavgjourn.