How sustainable, urban gardening can be maintained in the Coastal Bend

Aislynn Campbell.jpg
Posted at 6:59 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 20:23:10-04

TAFT, Texas — In May of 2020, Aislynn Campbell was working in corporate medicine, and decided to make a change in her life. Campbell left the industry, and decided to start her own business, It’s Just Aislynn.

“After having seen a little bit of what we were facing as a world, as it related to wellness and health, I felt like it was time for me to get back into my roots, and get back into what I felt was the highest quality of life and contribution I could bring to my community and my family. That was to step back into wellness, and that was for me particularly, small-scale farming, sustainability, and the homesteading,” she said.

Campbell is a gardening and lifestyle coach. She teaches people how to create their own sustainable gardens.

“I call it edible landscaping, or homesteading,” she said. “What I teach people is how to use their land to be the most productive for their needs.”

Campbell currently lives in Corpus Christi, and she considers herself an “urban homesteader,” which means she has a working garden in her backyard in the city. However, she in in the process of transitioning to living on her family’s farm in Taft, Freedom Harvest Farms.

“We’re really excited to see all the different things we can bring onto the land, with the things I do with my private coaching business, and what we can do with this land as well, as we transition our lives permanently onto the land out here,” she said.

Campbell teaches people how to grow food, and how to cook the food they grow, so they can provide food for their family.

“Anyone that has an interest in feeding their family, I can absolutely help you out,” she said. “I do not create turn-key gardens, I do not go in and build a garden for you, I go in and teach you how to turn your land into something that’s productive for you.”

On top of her coaching, Campbell is also involved in what she calls “agro-tourism,” in that the farm in Taft has a pavilion available for rent, where business can rent space to hold events on the farm. Campbell said she also has held, and continues to hold, farm to table events, where she brings in a local chef who cooks locally grown food. She also has worked with schools and camps to teach about sustainable practices, and take tours of the farm.

“Part of the sustainability concept is, not only are you preserving land, helping your wellness, and all of that, but you’re also paying your bills,” she said.

One thing Campbell also focuses on is preparing a garden so that it can survive extreme weather, like drought, hurricanes, and even the recent freeze.

“When I started the grow local non-profit (Grow Local South Texas), we would jokingly talk about the “zombie apocalypse,” like I’m getting ready for the zombie apocalypse. The reality is, there was enough visionary thought in my mind that said, ‘what if the truck can’t get here?’” she said.

Back in 2017, Campbell used her contacts with local farmers in South Texas to get food sent to the area when supply chains were interrupted due to Hurricane Harvey.

“Our farmers, our small-scale farmers, were able to provide things. In addition to that, the small-scale farmers in the region of South Texas, I have access to a lot of those folks, and I reached out, and said, ‘we need your help here in the Corpus Christi region. We need help with food,’ and they came to help with that. The same thing happened after the freeze,” she said.

Campbell said it’s never too late to try to get a garden started. In fact, with the rain the Coastal Bend has seen over the last few days, gardening and maintaining should be easy while soil is wet.

“The best time to weed is right after a rain. So, you can see it’s pulling out of here very nicely and very easily,” she said, demonstrating planting techniques.

Campbell also said there are several vegetables people can go buy and plant, that will thrive in the South Texas climate.

“If you went out and bought a pepper plant today, and put it in the ground, you would have some peppers, same thing with eggplant and basil. All of those are just simple things you can put it right now,” she said.