Foraging, Gardening, Joy—How Two Black Plant Influencers Use the Platform

Black history often focuses on black pain and suffering, from chattel slavery to modern police atrocities. But if you look closely, you’ll find hope, community, and existence that transcends alienation, especially when it comes to plants.

Talk to two well-known plant influencers, Alexis Nikole Nelson, known as a black forager on TikTok, and Kamili Bell Hill, an Instagram gardener who runs Plant Blerd and Black People with Plants, and they use the platform. I asked you to share how to celebrate. At the same time as the joy of black people and the connection of plants, we provide fun plant picks that all plant lovers can enjoy.

The plant “switched on in me”

“I’m really lucky to be able to love the outdoors from both sides of the family, knowing that not all black kids, especially black kids in Ohio, are lucky enough to get it. It was, “said Nelson, who still lives in Ohio.

As a child, I learned that plants that appear to be weeds are not only edible, but in some cases very tasty.

She said she understood what plants could be “switched on in me.” “In the rest of my childhood, every time someone mentions a random plant that I’ve recognized as edible, I say,” Oh, my god, OK, I have to keep this later. I had to do it. ” “

Nelson found the use of her spiritual inventory of edible plants at college. Her budget was tight and she didn’t want to eat ramen or ice cream every day. So she started putting Nagabagishigi leaves in the stir-fried noodles and a quarter of the lamb in the salad.

Currently, her TikTok channel has 2.9 million followers and 51.9 million likes. But she started small. What started by running a TikTok account for a company unrelated to foraging turned into Nelson and decided to explore the app for himself. When the pandemic began, she used her skills to help people access food safely and for free.

“I shot a video of walking in the neighborhood and said:’I’m a little nervous going to the grocery store, so I have five plants to help me find and grow my groceries in my neighborhood. Introducing.'”The video worked very well.

Why identify her as a black forager, not just a forager?

“For me, foraging as a black woman is a rebellion by the recovery of knowledge,” she said, captioning a video on the topic “Black history meets black joy.”

“I describe the joy of black people as having unlimited enjoyment of whatever we want to do,” she said. “You don’t have to put up with it. You don’t have to worry about perception. You don’t have to worry about whether we fit into any social structure. In the morning, we just lean on what gets us out of bed. That looks like a black joy to me. “

Nelson says she finds black joy when she is her real self. Outside, you’re in an unexplored forest, beach, or river with a small basket, trowel, and boots.

But she still has to deal with vandalism.

“I’m always flooded with comments about my appearance, color, hair, and tooth gaps. Many people have the right to express totally undesired opinions about who they are and how they do it. I feel there is. I present myself to the world, “she said.

But Nelson does not accept harassment.

When she protects herself, people sometimes react angry, as if such a cheerful person was not allowed to react to abuse and protect herself. She said she felt that some people prefer to fit the stereotypes of minstrels.

“Sometimes I’m always here, calm, cool, and really afraid to fit this, almost like the role of a foraging mom so that she can respond to questions and unnecessary commentary. That’s not what we’re trying to do here, “she said.

Nelson not only “is allowed to say something back” to racist comments, but also evokes those who believe that her joy is solely for their consumption. I like to remind people of what is forgiven.

She wants to foster a growing community where everyone can develop the taste of foraging.

Where to start is Nelson recommends marine feeding of edible seaweed. Other plants she is willing to feed on include the Persimmon, Pawpaw, Laportea bulbifera, and the “keep your feet wet” Jewel Weed, which grows near streams in Ohio.

Celebrate “Everyday Black Joy”

“I grew up around my mother and grandmother. My grandmother had an edible garden, and my mother had all the houseplants, so when I was a kid, the plants There’s no corner where he wasn’t involved. We spent Saturday together, “says Hill, a New York resident who works as an interior designer.

In fact, buying a fiddle-leaf fig for a client pushed her love for gardening to overdrive.

“I love doing it for peace and relaxation. That means there are many benefits, but it also feels like a real connection with my past, grandmother, and mother. To me, plants. There are many connections with. “

When she wanted to share her love for plants with others, Hill realized that her friends and family weren’t so enthusiastic. So she decided to create her own Black Gardening community Plantblerd and BlackPeopleWithPlants on Instagram.

“Blerd” is a portmanteau of “Blacknerd” and Hill created Plantblerd. It currently has nearly 29,000 followers as a space for blacks who turn plants into geeks.

“There was this whole community I didn’t know anything about, and it was literally like a breath of fresh air to me, because it’s what I do for my own joy and nothing to do By being a mother, wife, and designer. It’s mine. It allowed me to open up fun and creativity for myself. “

BlackPeopleWithPlants — According to Instagram’s biography, the “Love Letter to Blacks with Plants” introduces black gardeners around the world. The account has about 31,000 followers.

“We’re more than just hashtags. There’s more than trauma in our lives,” she said. “I want to celebrate the joy of our daily blacks.”

Hill opened this Instagram account in the summer of 2020. After the murder of George Floyd and Breona Taylor, we noticed more black content being featured on social platforms while Black Lives Matter was trending. But only as a response to the death and suffering of blacks. The Black Lives Matter alliance soon began to decline, and black content, especially those focused on Black Joy, became difficult for her to find again.

So she decided to create a page that focused on the collective joy of the black gardening community.

“I describe the joy of black people in an impulsive and very good way. I think it’s really important because the plants are healed. And collectively, we need healing. As you know, I think our community still has the stigma of seeking traditional cures. Plants are very therapeutic, “she said.

Slavery trauma can be seen as separating blacks from the enjoyment of nourishing the land. Personal horticulture under slavery was often done to supplement poor diets. Foraging to facilitate escape. For Hill and others, regaining a connection with joy can be a means of catharsis that modern medicine and treatments do not always achieve.

“If you have a group of people you desperately need [a healing connection with plants], It’s people of color, especially blacks. So I think that’s why it’s really important for black people to grow. I encourage the black people I meet to get some plants in their lives. “

Hill helps people get plants in their lives by always having cutting or succulents ready to go home with their guests.

Hill recommends the classic Monstera Deliciosa. “The leaves are these big, beautiful windowed leaves and this bright neon green. They give me great joy.”

She also proposes to grow sea squirts, mini monstera, ZZ plants, mandurah potos, and golden potos.

Foraging, Gardening, Joy—How Two Black Plant Influencers Use the Platform

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