In a world where the thought of creating meaningful change can seem staggering and insurmountable, one young woman born and raised in Hudson, New York is re-framing the way small changes can create a lasting effect in local communities. Meet Nkoula Badila, an empowered social activist, artist and gardener. Nkoula saw clearly the need for sustainable change in her neighborhood as well as the opportunity for her to step forward in the role of a teacher, leader and guide. Her vision, which was originally created and maintained by just her alone, has now positively touched the lives of many families in Hudson, New York.
How is she doing it? Nkoula is using the simple aspect of raised garden beds to raise the awareness and empowerment of food sovereignty for Black families through her movement called Grow Black Hudson. With over ten years of gardening experience, she saw the importance to return back home to help with educating those in her community of something so simple, yet so profoundly life altering. She began her journey of this vision by starting a fundraiser to gain traction, attention and interest. Her initial goal was as very small amount of funds, being as resourceful as possible, but very quickly she saw others getting excited about her project. The funds to expand Grow Black Hudson came through in supporting her vision more than she ever expected.
Nkoula is now working hands on with members in her community, not just building the garden beds for them, but showing them how to build the raised beds, how to tend to their gardens and how to share the joy and abundance of nature. This small action on her end has created over seventeen raised bed gardens, a multitude of smiles and endless bonding experiences for everyone involved. She is delighted to see the excitement in the families who’ve never experienced gardening before. She watches as they share their produce with neighbors and create delicious family meals from the produce they source within their backyard.
Her mission doesn’t end with fresh veggies and fruit though! She has created a ripple effect of bringing awareness and understanding to the community on what it not only looks like, but what it feels like to have food sovereignty right within their reach. Nkoula loves to share her knowledge of the importance of growing our own food and how self-sufficiency can be used as a weapon against processed food that does harm to our bodies, our local communities and the environment. Even families who have not previously been introduced to these concepts are openly receiving her guidance and enjoying the health and abundance of caring for their gardens.
A strong belief that Nkoula holds within her heart is that all people deserve access to fresh and organic food, and even more so, everyone has a right to the knowledge of growing fresh food for themselves, their families and their neighbors. Her mission of creating the gardens is the beginning of the road to food sovereignty and sustainable awareness for Hudson, NY, as it teaches just how accessible and realistic this goal is. Nkoula knows that the wisdom and medicine of the plants provides much more to her community than a good time and delicious food, she also acknowledges the ways of their ancestors, their innate connection to Earth and the ways in which these bonding experiences heal and nurture from within. One garden at a time, Nkoula is on a path to food sovereignty and sustainability and she is taking the rest of Hudson with her!