Community garden program welcomes new member

Community Garden Program Welcomes New Member

DIG crew member Samantha Trejo stops to point out and describe vegetables in the SEEDS garden. (Staff photo by Adriane Fields)

Samantha Trejo joined a community gardening program in Northeast Central Durham to take a risk and get out of her comfort zone.

“I didn’t know I was really into gardening before I started working here,” said Trejo, a Southern High School senior who started working for the Durham Inner-City Diggers (DIG) last August. The urban farming program teaches teenagers how to manage a garden and cook healthy meals. “Before, I was just like ‘oh, I’m gonna throw some seeds in the ground,’ but it’s a lot of work.”

DIG is one of several programs offered by the non-profit South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces (SEEDS) program, which teaches teens gardening skills and promotes healthy eating.

“Here, it’s not just about gardening,” said Trejo. “It’s more about building a community and getting to know each other, respecting each other, learning different cultures, and just learning how to be a well-rounded person.”

Born in Mexico, Trejo was drawn to the DIG program by a friend who interned there one summer, and because she had never worked in a garden before.

Trejo automatically fit in even on her first day, and “brings a very optimistic type of feel,” said Javonte Carver, who has worked with the DIG program for two years.

“She never comes here upset or sad,” he said.

DIG Coordinator Leslie Simonds agreed that Trejo fit in right away.

“I wish we would have met Samantha four years ago,” Simonds said.

She said it breaks their hearts knowing they only get her for a year since Trejo is a senior in high school.

Assistant DIG Coordinator LaTasha McMillan said she loves how Trejo takes initiative and comes up with great ideas.

“She’s one of the people who are a lot more amazing than you know,” McMillan said.

Trejo described her relationship with the DIG members as “a close family.”

“I think overall, it has made me responsible,” Trejo said. “If I could come here every day, I definitely would.”

Trejo works at SEEDS about four days a week, and her favorite thing to do while she’s there is planning for future projects and cooking. She said she’s glad she can cook meals herself now and doesn’t have to wait for her parents to get home.

Trejo and the other DIG members cook every Saturday, learning how to cook meals they wouldn’t normally cook on a daily basis.

“I think having a place like SEEDS in a community like this really opens up doors for a lot of people who didn’t know stuff like this exists,” said Trejo.

Trejo said her parents are very proud of her, and she likes teaching her dad different things about gardening because he grew up on a farm but didn’t get a chance to learn a lot about it.

Trejo said she still wants to be involved with the program while she’s in college, and she has inspired her younger brother to join the SEEDS program this summer.

“The more you connect with your community, the more you start to love your community, and the better your community is going to get,” Trejo concluded.