Meet Robert Horton, a St. Louis, MO native spreading the message of growing your own food. Tired of driving miles and miles to by purchase fresh groceries, Horton decided to just grow it himself. Going by the moniker Rob Veggies, the Tennessee State University alum has dubbed his community garden the Trap Garden.
Get to know him and the message behind the Trap Garden.
What is your name and title?
Rob Veggies founder of the Trap Garden
Where is the Trap Garden located?
The Trap Garden is located on the campus of Tennessee State University
What inspired you to start the Trap Garden?
My own personal life experiences have motivated me to want to build something that could provide assistance to others who do not have direct access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, in a neighborhood without many fresh healthy food items then moving to Nashville and having to drive miles away from my home to a grocery store with fresh products was frustrating.
I woke up one morning and decided that I did not want to complain anymore but do something to alleviate the problem. I decided to join a community garden and become an urban gardener to grow my own vegetables and herbs.
Over the years I have learned to believe that it takes a village to be successful. Do you have a team working with you or are you out doing it all by yourself?
I am a firm believer that team work makes the dream work. I do not have all of the answers as a young urban grower. Many of the more seasoned growers in the community garden have helped me to better develop my own personal skills and green thumb. From an organizational standpoint, many of my close personal friends such as Blake Nathan and Kayla Elliot have helped me to establish incorporating documents for the organization. The alumni of Tennessee State University have also greatly helped me with networking opportunities, supporting words, and guidance as the Trap Garden continues to grow.
How has the Trap Garden influenced the community? Are there any partnerships/collaborations you have done to empower others to grow their own food?
Hopefully it is inspiring. When people come to visit they are excited and want to learn more after leaving. A lot of individuals have expressed interest in wanting to get involved in gardening next season. I have received some interest from community organizations that want to hear more about the program. Currently working on a few partnerships for 2016 but I want to make sure they are directly aligned with the mission of the Trap Garden.
What plants do you think are the best to grow this time of season?
There is a long list of items that you can grow in the Fall but my personal favorite is collard and mustard greens. My pops just deemed me worthy of his recipe for preparing greens so I will be enjoying them all season long. I personally have also planted broccoli, kale, and spinach as well.
Who are your biggest influences?
First I would have to say Ron Finley. I watched a TedTalks presentation by urban gardener Ron Finley a long time ago and it really motivated me. I felt like I could relate directly to his experiences and wanting to take create something positive in his community. Next, I would have to say my core group of friends from college. We are all dreamers trying to make our passions into our careers. We fight every day to get to the next level and motivate each other along the way. I cannot fail because they will not allow it. I thank God for my support system and excellent group of friends who I consider to be my motivators and biggest influences in life.
Are there any upcoming projects or deals in the works?
As of right now, I am scheduled to travel to New Orleans and establish a community garden in December. Also, the Trap Garden is being filmed for a documentary that focuses on Food Deserts in America and those trying to fight the trend.
What three things do you believe you need to have/know to be successful and why?
- Have confidence in yourself and your initiative. There will be days when you will befrustrated, feel mentally defeated and want to quit. It is important to know that everyone will not immediately buy into your vision but in time if you continue to work hard, stay humble, and focus everything will become clear. You have to keep fighting for what you believe in because after 1,000 NO’s, all you could potentially need is one YES to change your entire life.
- Win Today. Take small steps to get closer to your goal. Many people can become overwhelmed thinking about the many steps it takes to get where they want to go in life. Take it day by day one step at a time. Creating a realistic plan of action to accomplish your goals helps to not become frustrated and overwhelmed.
- If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Surround yourself with people who can help elevate you to the next level and do not become complacent. I am continuously learning and asking questions from more experienced gardeners, community activists, and entrepreneurs.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I see myself having a healthy corner store in an urban community and being surrounded by a community garden. I plan to be a staple in an urban neighborhood where I know my customers and the community on a personal level. I also envision myself having established mobile markets to take fresh fruits and vegetables to communities without a Trap Veggies Corner Store….yea, I like that name “Trap Veggies Corner Store”. Think I may have my corner store name! The ultimate goal of the Trap Veggies Corner store will be to give people in low-income housing areas healthy food options as opposed to fast-food restaurants or other unhealthy items immediately available in their community. As well as to promote, educate, and provide affordable healthy food options that will improve the overall health of people.
What is your advice to anyone that wants to go for it and chase their dreams?
The perfect time to start is always NOW….Right NOW! In the beginning everything will not be flawless but in the end it will be worth it. The only thing stopping you from achieving your dreams is you.