What Planting a Garden Taught Me About Self-Care and Community

For Nkoula Badila, cultivating and caring for plants is a way to connect not only with nature, but also with herself, those she loves, and her history. She reminds us that sometimes, what we need most is to give ourselves the right conditions to thrive.

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In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and heartbreak, knowing that I can take a healthy seed, drop it in soil, expose it to water and sunlight, and watch it grow has always brought me a sense of peace. 

During the pandemic, I decided to name a plant after myself. I chose a Dracaena plant as my namesake, though we didn’t have a lot in common other than its spiky leaves bearing a slight resemblance to my hair. I recently discovered that I was eager to care for everyone but myself. I was quick to share a kind word with a friend but I was my harshest critic. I was patient with my family but I placed myself on the shortest leash. Caring for this plant was a way for me to start caring for myself.

Over time, as I checked on my plant’s health, presence, and location, I started to tap into its needs and desires. Slowly, this simple act of caring for a spiky plant helped me connect with myself and begin paying attention to my own needs. I was able to understand that, sometimes, pruning is required in order to grow. That you need…

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About the author

Nkoula Badila

Nkoula Badila is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, gardener, and community activist from Hudson Valley, New York. She is also the founder of Grow Black, a project created to educate Black and Brown Hudson community members about the importance, and Ancestral healing, that comes with growing their food. A strong advocate for sustainable living, Badila has Learned how to farm on many lands like Mexico, Belize, Haiti, Congo, and California giving her a wide insight into the relationship of people tending to land.