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HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? An interview with Jay Daniels

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, J. Daniels’ father always had gardens. Daniels remembers his father harvesting fruit-- grapefruit, apples, tomatoes-- from their backyard. His father would then dry out the seeds, and replant them in styrofoam cups to repeat the growing cycle.

His father inspired Daniels, the current CEO of Baton Rouge Housing Authority, to have an appreciation for gardening. And Daniels shows his appreciation by caring for his own set of garden beds. The Walls Project Team stopped by his home.

Before he starts his day, Daniels gets up at 6:30 a.m. to water all his gardening beds. For him, gardening is therapy.

“What I love most about gardening is that it’s cathartic. It’s my form of therapy," Daniels said.

The art of gardening gives him a moment of clarity to start off his day.

Time and planning are the key ingredients to growing a garden, according to Daniels. He encourages new gardeners to research the types of plants that are the best for you to grow.

Daniels believes it’s important to share what you have with the community. As an example, his neighborhood has hosted vegetable exchanges, spreading the literal fruits of their labor to one another.

But why is gardening important? To Daniels, gardening represents the truest metaphor to life itself.

“[Gardening] is about nurturing something. It’s about caring for something and putting in the hard work. And looking at the measurable outcomes,” Daniels added.

For those wanting to start their own garden, he offers this piece of wisdom:

“Grow what you like, grow what you love, grow what you can cook. Grow what comes easy to you, and then keep working at it,” Daniels said. “You have seasons. You just have to recognize that things come easier and easier with practice.”

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