Growing Food in Small Spaces
DASIA Edwards may be small in stature, but her passion for growing her own food is larger than life. So much so, this female farmer last October won the Ministry of Youth Development and National Service’s award for Agriculture in the (18-35) category.
From a tender age Edwards, a mother of two, has always had a passion for greenery and planting. Her affinity to nature continued to blossom over time and inspired her to create her grow box and vertical garden, named after her youngest son, Jelani Ubi.
She said, “I’ve always been around gardening and people who grow food. My grandfather was a gardener, so I spent most of my early life growing up on a six-acre plot.”
Edwards enjoyed the wide-open space provided by her grandfather’s land, and as a bonus, had additional space to roam as her two uncles had plots of land close by.
She said, “Seeing my grandfather grow food to feed our family helped me to appreciate his sacrifice and dedication to ensure we had healthy meals. In 2019, I was part of the WHY Farm Agripreneur Mastermind Programme. Through the programme, I met other farmers who did not have access to large pieces of land. They were farming using techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and vertical farming, etc. It inspired me to grow on the two lots I had available.”
Her planting endeavours proved successful, and Edwards quickly realised she did not need acres of land to grow her food.
“As a mother, you want to give your children the healthiest option when it comes to their nutrition. I now have the skill to grow food. It is wonderful to know where your food comes from, what’s in it, and know it’s much healthier for me, my sons, and my family,” she said.
Originating from Matura, Edwards is also a published writer, photographer, and poet. She is also the owner of Jafari Multimedia, a communications company named after her eldest son. In addition, she is the founder and director of the Living Environment Arts Festival (LEAF).
She said, “LEAF promotes eco-friendly living, encouraging sustainable lifestyle practices. LEAF connects food to the environment, people to the environment, and customers to eco-friendly products for everyday living. Our event was a physical platform that gave persons access to eco-friendly products made mainly by artisans in rural areas of the country. Our workshops are the educational factor that teaches people how to make these products. It also shows them how to live sustainably.”
Edwards is all about teaching people, young and old, how to grow food in small spaces.
She said since the pandemic, people have become more interested in home gardening. As a busy mom and entrepreneur, Edwards was inspired to create garden kits that bring your meal right from the garden to the table.
She explained how the genesis of the garden kits came about.
“This pandemic pushes you to be creative in cooking. I had some plants outside and was looking at them one day thinking; what dish could I put together. I realised I could actually make a meal using some of the ingredients. I thought this might make life easier for other moms and just anyone in general. One can literally have their breakfast, lunch, and dinner ingredients grown right outside their door; how cool is that, right!”
Potential customers can choose from LEAF’s wide selection of garden kits which include the breakfast salad, vegetables, herbs and seasonings, pizza topping, junior growers, and cocktail garden, to name a few.
Edwards said, “All garden kits come with soil. The plants are in coco peat pots. We also include fertiliser compost and a grow bag. It is packaged in a box and delivered to your door or to pick up points.”
The agripreneur said while a great deal has changed in farming, from techniques to technology, it remains a rewarding profession.
“It’s been just over two years since I started my garden. I grew up seeing my grandfather spending hours at the farm. He would head out early in the morning and be back home in the evening. It was heavy, tiresome back-breaking work in the blazing hot sun. I remember us having a dam—dug by a tractor in the middle of our 6-acre garden that grandpa used to water the plants. Now, you can water your plants by literally just pressing a button, or if you set up a timer, you don’t have to be there at all. Imagine vertical farming allows you to farm in a much smaller space and still produce high yields of food. Technology has made farming accessible and so much easier that even a five-year-old can have a garden,” Edwards said.
“The Garden kits cost between $120-$750. The Junior Grower ranges from $50 to $75. The Subscription Gardens start at $350. The Subscription gardens are plants and natural fertilisers delivered to you after harvest when your garden needs topping up. We also include a free grow guide to assist you with your gardening needs. Any space that can fit a grow bag or grow box can get you started. If you have a small porch or a tiny ledge near the window, we are here to assist you to grow your food in small spaces. We have specially designed grow boxes for narrow window sill areas,” she said.
“I’m doing all this to leave generational wealth for my sons as well as a sustainable environment,” she added.
The Matura mom enjoys reaping the nutritional and aesthetic benefits of her garden.