When most kids get home from school, they immerse themselves in the virtual worlds of television or video games. But not Austin King. He gets his hands dirty by immersing them in his backyard. Literally. He is the Young Urban Gardener, and he’s on the mission to feed the hungry in his city. You won’t believe this young man’s inspiring story.
In one particular episode of The Young Urban Gardener, you see eleven year old Austin King in his garden. “Hello, everyone. I’m Austin King, the young urban gardener, and today I’m planting turmeric.” The YouTube star continues, “You do not bury it too deep,” as he places the bulb in a pot of soil. “Turmeric has so many health benefits I can’t name ’em all,” he delivers with his trademark confidence and charm. “I can only remember one and it thins blood.”
Austin’s authority and true passion for gardening is what has made him so popular on YouTube. But popularity isn’t what drove him to start this project. Instead, it was hunger. Three years ago Austin and his family were having a difficult time getting enough to eat.
“I took my mamma’s beans out of the cabinet because we didn’t have much to eat,” Austin explains. “All we had was rice and those bags of beans. It was like a very small bag of beans, not even enough to feed everybody, so I had to make enough.”
This responsibility and perseverance are hallmarks of Austin’s wise-beyond-his-years brand. He explains that he took the beans to the back yard and hoped that by planting them, he could grow enough food for his family to eat.
“All I knew was water, dirt and sunshine. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know nothing else,” says Austin.
But that was all Austin needed to save his family. “We had beans and rice for the rest of the winter,” he says, smiling.
His mother, Dorothea, said, “I haven’t bought a bag of beans since.”
How Austin tends to a full garden. “Right here is my pepper garden. I like jalapeno peppers,” Austin said, pointing to a patch of ground. “Right here, I have raspberry. Right here, I’m making a raised garden bed for some carrots.”
He is now feeding his entire family from his garden, but his mission doesn’t stop there. He has now taken on the challenge of feeding other hungry families too.
Just down the street from Austin’s garden is an empty lot across from his school on Bellville Avenue. “That’s the lot where they’re digging.”
Austin is working with his neighbors to create a large community garden, and he’s already planning what will grow there.
“Corn, carrots,” he said. “For herbs, I’ve got sage, oregano, sweet basil, thyme, spearmint and lavender…fruits, I have blackberries, blueberries, grapes and raspberry.”
He talks about his vision for the garden: “I see a lot of people without food so I wanted to start that and you ‘aint gotta pay to grow anything on it. I’ll grow it. You’ll pick it.”
“His name, Austin King, that’s what I call him,” says mom. “He’s most definitely showing that he can feed a kingdom and I’m happy,” she says of her son’s work.
What do you think of Austin’s plan to feed his neighborhood? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.