It’s important to us at Good Earth Plant Company to use our platform to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans to horticulture and gardening during Black History Month 2022. Last year’s blog post on Black agriculture pioneers was one of our most well-read posts in 2021. Thank you!
If you didn’t get a chance to read about Tuskegee University pioneers Dr. George Washington Carver and Dr. Booker T. Whatley, Frederick McKinley, Marie Clark Taylor, Abra Lee, and Ron Finley, you might consider taking a few minutes to get acquainted with these impressive people.
But we barely scratched the surface. There are many more Black gardeners, designers, and plant stylists currently making news and creating a unique plant culture that’s flourishing. I especially love how many young entrepreneurs are opening businesses and pursuing careers in our industry. So many are doing it against the odds and probably ignoring a lot of well-meant advice about how “risky” it is. It was hard enough for me four decades ago, and I had all the privilege in the world behind me.
Many people of color are residents of urban areas and don’t grow up with easy access to Nature. They don’t get to explore forests. They often don’t have neighborhood parks nearby. So more than just opening incredible plant businesses, they’re often exposing diverse groups of people to nature and horticulture as an interest and a hobby all at the same time.
Mother Nature is all about diversity, inclusion, and equity. Our industry needs to expand its reach into diverse communities. Good Earth Plant Company’s mission is to enrich peoples’ lives with plants.
So although we can barely make a start, we’d like to give some visibility to some enthusiastic young plant people of color doing great things all over the U.S. Consider checking out their websites, follow them on social media – and how about supporting their businesses?
Stephanie Horton, AKA Botanical Black Girl, believes “plants should be accessible to all, and that includes education for every demographic.” We’re 100% with you, Stephanie! Reading about Stephanie, you’ll quickly see she’s a problem solver with an eye for detail – and for bold color!
She is originally from St. Louis, now based in Madison, Alabama. Stephanie is committed to working with youth to let them know about opportunities in our field. We call it the “youthquake” at Good Earth Plant Company, and it’s the way to a bright plant-filled future. We are focused more than ever on the “youthquake” movement, getting more young plant people involved in our industry. We love the energy and creativity. They’re teaching this veteran a lot.
Martine Delbrin and her husband are located in Ocala, Florida. They also run a fish store at the same location. She started her business in 2020 during the pandemic. That tells me she’s willing to take a chance on herself!
Emerald City is proud to be New England’s first Black-owned plant shop and event space, located in Norwood, Massachusetts. Owner Quontay Turner started her business as a pop-up on November 30, 2020. Yes, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic! Are you sensing a theme here? Quontay earned a degree in civil engineering and environmental studies ten years ago and has been active as a member of the community in many ways, including Boston Young Black Professionals, National Society of Black Engineers, and Toastmasters. We’re big believers in being active in professional groups. Now Quontay has turned her networking and activism skills to the horticulture industry, and no surprise, she’s thriving.
This Black-owned business in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has plants and lots of plant-themed merchandise for people who can’t get enough plants. I might need this glass. Chanel Gloster opened this e-commerce business one year ago, in January 2021. Her goal is to open a storefront eventually. She writes on her website she was moved to action “after seeing the disparity of plant and home decor shops owned and operated by people of color. People of color have a long-standing history of collecting, caring for, and cultivating indoor plants, and even with the market exploding over the last 2 years there is great disparity in the number of black-owned plant and home decor stores. There are currently NO Black Woman Owned Plant and Home Decor storefronts operating within our city and county, and I want to change that!”
The Black Plant Village
“Plant Mama Chanel” ALSO started the Black Plant Village project. She features many more Black Plant businesses and people than we can list here. AND if you have a business you want to be listed, get in touch with Chanel, who manages the page.
Plant Man P is Jon Perdomo, based in Los Angeles. He and Jerrilyn Peralta built on a background in streetwear and combined it with a passion for houseplants to create “a community of like-minded individuals.” You can start your experience with Plant Man P’s YouTube channel.
Jon wrote in a Los Angeles Times article: “Houseplants mean growth. Houseplants mean love. Houseplants mean togetherness. Houseplants mean happiness. Houseplants mean peace. Houseplants mean belonging. Houseplants mean the world to us. We are trying to share that experience. Hopefully, with what we’re doing, we can inspire the next person to purchase a plant, take a page out of our book and create something that makes them happy as well.”
Jon and Jerrilyn’s video are for everyone who loves plants from, beginners to green thumbs. They share their successes and learning experiences too. Enjoy a look at Plant Man P’s cactus collection backed by a great soundtrack.
Even more resources:
Big Green: This nonprofit organization encourages the creation of learning gardens in schools, including diverse communities. For Black History Month, it curated a list of fun books for kids to promote and encourage diversity in gardening. Find a new favorite here. Why not donate one to your favorite library or school?
We’ve been following a new project by the Los Angeles Times called Plant PPL. We encourage you to follow the LA Times Plants Instagram page and read the articles (as often as allowed anyway if you don’t subscribe).
February is just a short four weeks. We hope you’ll keep learning more. This resource list of plant-related businesses owned and run by people of color is only a start. If you know about others, please share your favorites with us on our social media pages when you find something new. Even though February is specially designated as a time to honor and celebrate Black History, this is something we can do all year long.