Cloud 9 Community Farms’ Development Assistant, Kayla Aughenbaugh, sat down with Cloud 9’s Farm Director, Danyell Brent, to talk about his garden experiences.
KA: Thank you for meeting with me today! So the first question we have prepared, if you would like to share, how did you first get into gardening and working with Cloud 9?
DB: That was 2013, but it goes back to 2012 [when] my girlfriend, Debbie of 31 years decided to go to Church on July the eighth. On July the ninth, she woke up, she told me to go get me a beer, and get her a beer. She said that was the last beer we were ever going to drink. I made that promise to her. So fast forward, the last time I took a drink was nine years, last summer made nine years.
In around 2013, I met my sister, Lauren, who lived around the corner from me. At this time we were talking and I was like, “I'm staying sober, I'm doing right and nothing's changing.” She gave me a tomato plant and told me anytime I felt sad, depressed, felt like getting high, to talk to the tomato plant. I started buying plants. Then a year went by, 2013 came in and I joined the Mantua Urban Garden.
Before I knew it, 2016, they came and I met Rania. I met Rania and I do what I do because my Heavenly Father and my brother, Jesus, loved me enough to bring me the greatest sister a man in my place at the time could’ve had.
She came [and saw my garden]. She was interested in how my peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers were growing on the gate and how I did this with the area getting no sun? Some time went by and we were talking and then she asked me, “Could I build this garden right here for the community?” Then the garden was built and it's been very successful for about five years.
KA: What are your most proud accomplishments in creating this space, building the garden, and
doing what you do for others?
DB: My most enjoyment out of it is, not even feeding the people. My most enjoyment is talking to people. I know more people now in my community. I am able to communicate with pretty much anyone. I know more people now than I ever did in this community the whole time I lived around here. More people know me and I don’t know them. And I like talking with the people because you find out who they really are.
You find out who you really are. I find that a lot of people don’t know who they are. I can relate to all situations because at one time I didn’t know who I was. With talking with people, I'm able to help turn their lives around. I’ve actually had some people in the world of alcohol and drugs, they have actually told me I helped make a difference. The staff at Kirkbride have told me I helped make a difference.
The great part about what I do is, I don’t have to be the same color as you, we don’t have to have the same religion, we don’t have to live in the same neighborhood, we ain’t gotta have nothing in common. I don’t even gotta like you. But it’s my duty, my calling, and my job to feed you. So I gotta leave my personal opinions at home.
I think we should do what we can. Stop making your fight with people. See, my fight personally is with hunger. My fight ain’t with people. This is why everyone gets a bag. Everyone who comes to this corner, gets a bag on Friday. Because my fight is not with people, my fight is with hunger. And if we can look at each other in that way, we can always get along. Because if I’m fighting against whatever it is, if it’s your politics, and you’re fighting alongside my fight against hunger, we just accomplished something.