Gardener Spotlight – Building community with plants

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Sonya Muldrow is a Creekwood resident who has been working for years to bring gardening into her neighborhood. Along the way she has accomplished a lot. Starting with a Culinary Arts degree from Cape Fear Community College, she then became a certified Extension Master Gardener. Sonya now volunteers at Willowdale Farm on 30th Street, helps with an after school program for youth at the Creekwood Learning Center and is building up her own nonprofit, BAPs. Last year Sonya collaborated with the Ability Garden to build fifteen pocket gardens for her Creekwood neighbors. The initial build out phase of this project has been completed, but the collaboration will continue as both Sonya and the Ability Garden look for funding to build more garden beds and partner with the Master Gardener program to bring in summer plants. 

I asked Sonya what she wanted people to know about her work in Creekwood. “I just want people to come together to build trust, to get together and be neighbors again. I want to take back our neighborhood and stop negative outside influences from recruiting our little boys. It literally starts with ‘hey little man, what size shoe you wear’ and they get them expensive shoes and start bringing them into the gang.” Sonya wants to create a community where these boys have other options, other people who take interest in them, and help them learn skills which can eventually lead to good jobs.

As  a community Creekwood has been through a lot, the COVID pandemic closed the Learning Center for over two years, most residents were displaced due to mold issues, with many families living in hotels for over a year. Now most of the residents are back, there are kids on the playground and basketball court, the Learning Center is open, the pocket gardens are ready for a summer planting and there is a sense of opportunity in the air. Sonya is ready to embrace it, continuing to work and grow with and for the Creekwood community.

Sonya and Ability Garden intern planting in Creekwood

Sonya and Ability Garden intern planting in Creekwood

Sony Muldrow with Ability Garden intern at plant sale

Sonya working the Ability Garden plant sale

Sonya working a neighbors garden

Sonya working a neighbors garden