Homage to the House Plant (and those who grow them): Robert Harris, Jr.

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

I use my plants as my therapy. You know about the [community] gardens [I work with]. But then [I] also work with a program called Kids in the Kitchen [to help students learn about healthy eating]. … And then I work to collect school supplies for kids at the public schools here and down at Morley, but what I really work with is the urban farm that’s coming here.

And waiting on things to take place — life is a process. And it’s just slow taking place. And then there’s a church in Hayti, Mo., where poverty is pretty big down there. And they got a grant to develop two acres of vegetables and … we’re going to develop an urban orchard down there. So it’s just, you got a lot of things on your mind. But the plants help keep you who you are, help you keep you thinking, process. And some things you can’t do anything about, you just have to wait it out. And when you wait, you have to let things develop and take its own steps. And so that’s what my plants do for me.

When you grew up in poverty and you’ve lived in that and you’re not where you want to be, you don’t have everything you need, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a step.

When I was a boy, I had an interest in plants. And at that time, when I would work with growing things the best I could, whether it was good or not, I’d get the best I could, and then as I got older, my love of plants grew. … If it was left up to me, well, you couldn’t get in the living room because it would be a jungle.

You live by faith each day. … We all have to have something to help us to get through. Because life sometimes, it can be big, it can be technical, it can be a lot of things. … The plants help me to live out the purpose that I know that I was divinely put here to do. We all have a purpose. And this is mine. … You’re dealing with life. We can all have plans, but plans don’t always go according to plan. So, you’ve got to think around some things.

I collect what I love. … It becomes part of you when you just care for, water and fertilize plants, and if you have a passion for it, it’s a great thing. … So I have a love for it. And if a person has a love for them, you’ve got to start some time. You may not always have that green thumb at first, but maybe, if you just stay with it. And you look things up, just like with me being a Master Gardener, I get people asking me about plants. … I still ask questions. … Nobody can just do something and just start out with it and think it’s just going to work out, because you’ve got to have somebody to show you what to do and to help you with those.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to bloom where you’re planted. And where you’re at, you can be that light. When things grow, it can be something to inspire others.

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer