GERALD OWENS JR.
Urban Haven in Las Vegas, Nevada
Meet Gerald Owens Jr., the man behind @og_gardenfrenzy. Gerald grew up in North Highlands, which is a small sector in Sacramento, California. His first experience with a garden was in his grandmother's strawberry patch on the side of her house. As a child, Gerald would eat all of the green strawberries he could find - which his family still teases him about to this day.
In 2017, with the help of his family, Gerald has converted his small Las Vegas allotment into a food growing haven. He started his urban farm with a few tomatoes, peppers and squash plants. From there he just continued to expand and grow. He now has chickens, fruit trees, and numerous raised beds brimming with veggies and fruits.
The only stigma Gerald encountered early in his growing journey was people telling him that he couldn’t grow in Las Vegas:
“Now years later, harvest after harvest, I have turned them into believers that it is very possible to grow in the desert.”
Gerald’s advice for people interested in growing their own food but feeling overwhelmed with where to start:
“Just get after it and plant something. Also involve the kids, if you have children, it will leave them with a valuable life lesson and tool they can use to always be able to feed themselves. There is no telling how the world will be 10-20 years from now."
Living in the hot, unforgiving desert of Las Vegas Gerald has had to get creative day in and day out. When high winds have blown his shade cloths away, he has improvised with bed sheets to protect his plants until the sun is behind the mountains. Gerald’s advice for growing in hot arid regions:
“Research when and where to grow certain things and make sure you have ample shade. You also want to water well and deep twice a day and everything will be ok. I would recommend to just youtube whatever it is your trying to grow and just watch a little bit of everything available to see how people grow things, because everyone has different methods. Taking a little bit of know-how from everyone has helped me in my journey. Also, hands on experience is always the number one key.”
Gerald has inspired his neighbors and family members to start their growing journey as well:
"I have a really good neighbor and friend @farmerchalmers. We share and trade crops and help each other out. I’ve also gotten my father, mother, grandparents and a few friends into growing food. To me that is the biggest win because if everyone grows a little bit we never would have to go to the store and it is great for your health...To get a cleaner food system I believe everyone needs to be able to grow. That may seem to be far fetched, but if we have an extensive amount of people growing in all communities we all could barter amongst one another. Crop sharing would make significant difference but everyone has to play their part."
Through the pandemic, Gerald has focused on the positives:
"The pandemic for me and my family has been a blessing and I say that to say this, when something is out of your control, there is nothing that you can do about it. We have taken the time to relax and just enjoy all of us at the house at the same time outside of Sunday. Both of my kids play club sports so we are always on the go from practices to games to competitions so we have enjoyed the chill time.”
Gerald’s future goal for Owens County Urban Farm (Owens Garden Frenzy) is to expand every season and start selling his produce at the local farmers market in Las Vegas. He also working on getting a little more land to grow on.
Thank you Gerald for sharing your story with us!