Thursday, March 14, 2013

Small Seeds, Huge Impacts

The green movement is growing and many people are more interested in having a productive home garden. This is a great thing! With the cost of food rising and the current veil of ignorance about what is in our food and where it originates; growing our own food is one of the most productive ways we can increase the quality of our food supply. Corporate forces use many different slogans and terms that can be confusing to a novice grocery shopper who is solely interested in consuming the best products for their body. A sure way to do away with the confusion is simple; plant your own seeds!

When preparing a home garden the excitement about the soon productive harvest leads numerous gardeners to prepare their soil with love, take their precious time in figuring out what type of growing methods to use, and then almost mindfully run to their local hardware store and purchase whatever seeds that may be available. However, one of the most critical aspects of a successful garden is a healthy and locally adapted seed. The issue with large scale hardware stores is that they sale the same products for a store in Texas, as they do in Maine, Tennessee, and Idaho. You may find yourself asking, “What’s wrong with that?” Not all regions of the United States can grow identical varieties of plants with the identical amount success of productivity. What grows prominently in Maine may not work as well as in Tennessee, Texas, or Idaho.

Plants are just like people. When a parent raises a child in Texas, then moves to Maine when the child is 16, it is likely that the child will encounter problems transitioning to the environment in that area. The same happens with plants and seeds. If a tomato plant grows wonderfully in Michigan, the seeds are harvested and then distributed here in Texas. There is no guarantee that the tomato seeds planted here will have the same success. However, if I harvest tomatoes seeds from The Marcus Garvey Liberation Garden or Alabama Gardens here in Houston, TX; the likelihood of them thriving at your home in the greater Houston area is much more probable. While growing in a particular area, plants give their seeds the tools to thrive in that same general area at an even greater rate. Just like our parents did for us!

So now, I hope you’re excited about local seeds, and your next question is, “Where can I get these locally adapted seeds?” There is a select group of gardeners, farmers, and seed savers that gather and host ‘Seed Swaps’. The wonderful thing about the Seed Swap is that not only is it locally adapted to our climate, but the seeds are likely to be grown using organic techniques and principles. An added benefit is that you will have the opportunity to converse with the individual who grew and harvested the seed that you will inherit. This can be a very empowering experience. We can harvest and prepare a meal for you to eat once, but when we give you seeds to plant, and teach you how to nurture them, why should you ever go hungry again?

RSVP Here --->

The 2013 Spring Seed Swap will take place at Agape Community Garden, 6401 Calhoun Blvd., Houston, TX 77021 from Noon unitl 3PM. If you need more information please contact or 713-396-0001.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Growth for the New Year

To most people January represents much more than just the start of a new calendar year. For the majority of us, January is a time to change important and meaningful aspects of our lives. Some choose to rectify relationships, work to change economic situations, or to improve overall health and well-being. Usually, two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to improve physical fitness or eat healthier. Starting a vegetable garden is a wonderful way to knock out, “two birds with one stone”.

The mild winters of Southeast Texas make January a great time to spend some time in your yard, on your porch, or patio working to start or expand your own small piece of food security. The short days and cool weather makes it quite pleasant to work up a sweat tilling soil, building beds, and weeding plots. At the same time, Texas winters also produce more consistent rain and moisture which can be a great assistant to anything growing. Winter is a good season to sow seeds that can possibly be ready to harvest within a little more than a month. Seeds and transplants for cilantro, dill, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, beets, and lettuce are just a few items that can grow well during this time. The cooperative weather and quick crop turn-around are great motivators to spend more than a few hours working in the garden during January.

Don’t forget. When people think of planting a garden they generally think of the food harvested as the primary contributing factor to better health. Excited about the harvest, the fact that you actually have to do some manual labor is overlooked in its ability to be low-impact exercise. Statistics show that 40 minutes of gardening is equivalent to 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.

Did I mention that you could also possibly save money by growing your own food? The list of reasons to get started on your garden in January can be quite long and I only choose to explain two. I promise as soon as you choose to pick up gardening for your family, you will find many more reasons to spend more of your time indulging in better health and the simple joy of producing something meaningful. So, when pondering on how to achieve those New Year’s resolutions, always consider how a home garden can help turn that issue into an asset. In 2013 make the decision to add New Growth to your New Year!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Greater Houston Urban Garden: Healthy Living Seminars

Please join us Saturday, August 18, 2012 from 9am to noon for a day filled with information promoting healthy living. We will be offering free learning seminars such as Healthy Food Preparation, Bee-Keeping, Fall Gardening, and Yoga. The schedule is as follows:

    • 9 am (45mins) - Healthy Cooking – Sabali Mpozi – Vegan Comfort
    -Healthy food preparation.

    • 10 am Fall Gardening (45 mins) – Justin Duncan – Prairie View Cooperative Extension
    -Preparing a raised bed and planting a fall crop.

    • 11 am Bee Keeping (45 mins) – Dean Cook & Nell Wheeler – Natural Beekeepers – Water Conscious & Rain Water Systems
    -Explore the advantages of bee keeping.

    • 11:30am (30 mins) – Yoga Basics – Raquel Bradley – Realign Yoga
    -Breathing techniques and basic yoga postures to rejuvenate the body, open the spine and promote relaxation

We look forward to seeing you there! For more information regarding the festival please visit our website at!mglg-festival.

Also please RSVP the event here


Divine Leaders

Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Tour De Hood” Bike Ride Encouraging Physical Fitness

Divine Leaders Incorporated and Shrine of the Black Madonna is proud to host “The Second Greater Houston Urban Garden Festival”. This historic event will be take place August 17-18, 2012 at the Marcus Garvey Liberation Garden (MGLG) and many other community institutions.
The purpose of our festival is to encourage parents and children to make an adjustment to a more sustainable and less stressful way of living. To aid in this goal there will be an emphasis placed on exercise, conservation, better eating habits, and more cooperative living amongst Houstonians.

In order to introduce local residents to enjoyable and family centered physical activities, on August 17, 2012 at 7pm, we will host a “Tour De Hood” Bike Ride. This 10 mile community bike ride will be lead by “Tour De Hood” around the Greater Southeast Houston Area. “Tour de Hood” is a 501(c) 3 organization that is geared towards getting people the practical information they need to be healthy mentally and physically. Residents will be lead throughout community bike trails and historic neighborhoods. Up to 40 bicycles will be provided for community residents to participate who do not own their own bicycles. This bike ride is sorely needed in our community to increase physical activities and to help local residents feel more comfortable about exercising in their own neighborhoods.

Your attendance, participation and support of this event would be greatly appreciated. We are excited about this upcoming festival, and we look forward to you being a part of the experiences. For more information please contact a Divine Leaders representative at or 713-396-0001. RSVP for the entire festinal here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Plant of the Month: Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is a very productive fruit that grows wonderfully in the MGLG. This year cantaloupe is second generation, which means it was planted from the seeds we harvested from the prior year. The recognized health benefits of cantaloupe are lower blood and cholesterol levels, a reduction of the risk of heart disease, prevents cataracts, and reduces the chances of being diagnosed with cancer.

An uncommon trait of fruit that is special about cantaloupe is that it contains both vitamin C and beta-carotene. The vitamin C helps keep arteries clear and beta-carotene fights heart disease. These two antioxidants are one the main reasons cantaloupe helps prevent cancer and many other age-related health issues. In addition, the fruit also contains a large amount of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. Supposedly, cantaloupe has twice the amount of potassium than a banana. Our bodies need potassium to help expel excess sodium. A large amount of sodium (salt) is a cause of high blood pressure.

The cantaloupe growing in the MGLG are our small, sweet, and very aromatic jewels. A couple of our frequent garden workers were having a debate about whether to call the “Candy Canteloupe” or “Candyloupe”. Yes they are that sweet! Plus the smell alone makes me not want to cut the cantaloupe and just use it in my home as potpourri. Would like to have a similar experience with the produce in your home? Well drop by The Living Grocery Store this weekend and pick up a couple! Come early, because they disappear QUICKLY!

Monday, May 7, 2012

MGLG Kale Day at Sunshine Health Food Store & Vegetarian Deli

On May 10, 2012, Sunshine Health Food Store will feature the freshly picked Kale from The Marcus Garvey Liberation Garden (MGLG). The MGLG is a local community garden located two blocks away from Sunshine. The garden was created to increase the access to fresh and sustainable food in the neighborhood. The two establishments have worked together to deliver fresh, chemical free and locally grown Kale. While supplies last, the famous kale salad will prepared from kale harvested the day before! You can’t get much fresher, healthier, and environmentally friendly produce in many other places.
In addition to Kale, Red Clover is another crop that is currently abundant in the MGLG. Red Clover is a blood purifying herb with special benefits for women. Red Clover has been scientifically proven to decrease the symptoms of PMS and menopause. The herb has also been proven to decrease the chance of breast and prostate cancer. More information about Red Clover can be found here. All these medicinal benefits and Red Clover makes a smooth and refreshing tea. Red Clover Tea will be available for tasting.

Plant of the Month: Beets

Beets are considered root crops and they are very easy to grow. In Texas they grow very well during cooler seasons like most root vegetables. Beets are a very productive crop because you can eat, and use both the beet tops (beet greens/leaves) and the actual beet (the root). Before the root is large enough for harvest, you can snap off the beet greens/leaves to eat. The beet leaves will reproduce while the beet (root) continues to grow. Therefore, you can eat from each beet more than once.

Since beets are a cool season crop, we will be picking our remaining beets throughout the month of May in order to prepare for other summer crops such as sweet potatoes. 

The nutritional benefits of beets are astounding! Beets have been proven to protect against cancer and prevent birth defects in newborns. In some countries beet juice alone is used as a treatment for cancer. Beets are also a natural source of a high amount of Vitamin B (Folate). Folates are beneficial to pregnant women because it is necessary for the critical development of the fetus. The deep colors of beets come from a compound named betacyanin, which has been noted by scientists as a tumor-fighting agent.  In comparison to lean beef, beets can provide similar amounts of iron and can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Raw beets are high in carbohydrates and low in calories, which mean they are a natural energy boost. Beets also contain high volumes of phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and biotin. Biotin (commonly referred to as Vitamin H) helps to convert food into fuel. It is also recommended to help strengthen hair, nails, and skin.
If beets are this beneficial, shouldn’t you be eating more of them??? Come by The Living Grocery Store (MGLG) for your fresh beets during the month of May to improve your health and satisfy your taste buds. The Living Grocery Store is open every Sunday at 11am – 2pm., 5317 M. L. King Blvd. Houston, TX 77021.