Melissa’s green thumb - Gardening enthusiast reaping rich rewards
Graphic artist Melissa Green says that learning how to produce her own supply of fruits and vegetables has benefited her mental health and that of her family during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is great satisfaction, and a great type of therapy during this time when there are a lot of lockdowns going on [and] when you need to take your mind off certain stresses," Green said.
The mother of two boys says getting her hands dirty and reaping a harvest became a therapeutic hobby.
"[It] was something I did in my downtime. Something I use to bond with my kids because they are out there with me playing and helping me. So even if you're not harvesting a big basket every week, it's just nice to be in connection with mother nature," she said.
Green's journey to becoming a gardening enthusiast evolved from her interest in house and ornamental plants. She said that at the beginning of the pandemic, she had a desire to secure her own food.
"One of my main concerns was having to go to the supermarkets or the markets, because I have a toddler and I didn't want to go out with the boys," she said.
Green's desire for self-sustainability spurred her to study more about growing her own food using simple containers around her home. After embarking on this exercise, she began to document her progress on social media.
"What I really was doing is just some short documentaries of my journey, [in terms of] how I did this [and] how I did that. From there, I realised that a lot of people were interested in how I was doing things," she shares.
This prompted her to create a YouTube channel, and later, an Instagram page, under the handle, 'Grow With Honeybee', where Jamaicans across the island can join her in learning how to grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Green has so far been supplying a wide variety of vegetable seedlings and fruit trees to buyers, all grown in her backyard. These include thyme, rosemary, lettuce, pak choi, dill, red callaloo, grapefruit, cantaloupe, basil, sweet peppers, and turmeric. She said that her thyme and rosemary are best sellers.
At the same time, Green said that cooking with fresh produce from her garden and sharing it with her family and neighbours is a fulfilling experience.
"Once you start off with a herb garden and start cooking with fresh herbs, there is no turning back to dry, processed herbs, because nothing beats a fresh flavourful meal," she said.