Krystle Sims-Cameron’s first experience growing food was a plum tree. At age 6, she planted a plum pit in the corner of her yard.
“My mom told me that it was pointless to plant it,” she says. “Years later, on a nostalgic whim, I drove past my childhood home. In the same corner that I planted the seed, I could see a plum tree growing in my old backyard. It made me smile.”
Gardening continues to make Sims-Cameron smile. She takes pride in growing nutritious food for her family. It is one of the many reasons she was inspired to help others cultivate their first gardens.
“I wanted my community to feel the same autonomy that I have, knowing that they have some of their basic needs covered through their gardens,” she says.
In July 2020, Sims-Cameron founded “For the HortiCulture,” a fiscally-sponsored project restoring the culture of backyard growing for Black families in New Orleans. Its goal is to cultivate resilience in the communities most impacted by food insecurity and food-related health disparities.
Sims-Cameron began the effort with a small crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise money for building materials for 25 small, recycled pallet gardens. She asked for $2,500 and ended up raising more than $20,000.
This community support gave Sims-Cameron the opportunity to expand her vision. She now builds different garden types for families based on space, time and financial resources.
Considered a national expert, Sims-Cameron recently made an appearance on the Martha Stewart’s new show, “Martha Knows Best,” to discuss her organization and offer gardening tips.
“For the HortiCulture” also provides the community educational and mentoring support to ensure that each gardener reaches their full potential.
“Gardens should not be bound by privilege,” she says. “It is time we reclaimed that part of our culture. We need to show our elders that working the soil can be better and brighter.”
Sims-Cameron tip: “Container gardens can be a viable option for small spaces. It allows most anyone to garden and grow food for their families. I’ve started vegetables in buckets and pots and baskets so that I can show my community that the only limit to growing their own food is their imagination. Recycling plays a big role in my garden. Milk jugs can be mini-greenhouses. I use plastic soda bottles for drip irrigation and I repurposed storage tubs to become self-watering containers for herbs and tomatoes.”