A former New Orleans librarian, Ms. Brenda Bailey has retired and now resides in the East with her husband. When asked about her post-retirement life, she said she was content to fill her days with grandchildren and gardening. With Green Light’s garden build, she has enjoyed being able to kick start a lifelong interest in growing her own food.
Green Light: Tell me a little about your history with Green Light. How did you hear about or get into contact with us?
Ms. Bailey: My first contact with Green Light occurred when volunteers installed CFL bulbs in my home several years ago.
Green Light: What motivated you to contact us for a garden?
Ms. Bailey: It has always been a desire of mine to grow vegetables. After a local news show highlighted Green Light’s efforts to help New Orleans residents start vegetable gardens, I contacted Green Light and was placed on a waiting list. I was thrilled when volunteers came in January 2015 to install my vegetable garden.
Green Light: Has the garden affected or influenced your life? If so, how?
Ms. Bailey: My garden is a positive influence in several areas. It provides fresh vegetables for my family and others. Unlike purchases made at supermarkets, I know the footprints of my vegetables. It provides exercise and a sense of well-being. Having a vegetable garden helps me promote the benefits and joys of vegetable gardening. Lastly, I get to try out new recipes!
Green Light: What have you grown in your garden since it has been installed?
Ms. Bailey: In my first garden I grew kale (a favorite!), collard greens, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, and turnips. I did not get a crop from the radishes. This spring, I grew okra, watermelon and malabar spinach. The fall garden includes kale, broccoli, collards, and red romaine lettuce.
Green Light: Did you use any of the produce you grew in meals? What did you cook and how did it feel to be able to cook with something you grew?
Ms. Bailey: I like to use the vegetables in stir fry dishes, soups and salads. The okra has been smothered, boiled, fried, and given away to a friend who pickles them. It will of course be used in gumbo.
Green Light: Any gardening tips you would like to pass along to new Green Light garden recipients or applicants?
Ms. Bailey: Make sure you start with good soil. I have started making compost because it will make sure the vegetables get a good start. Become more knowledgeable about vegetable gardening by reading books, researching on the Internet (YouTube is great!) and going to gardening workshops. Of course, you can contact Green Light!
Green Light: Do you think your experience with Green Light will have any lasting impact on your life and if so what is that impact?
Ms. Bailey: I cannot see myself not gardening. It keeps me moving and learning!