Farming was something Kay Bell did not plan to do, but after experiencing a serious health event and with encouragement from her friends, she decided to begin her agricultural journey in Waco, Texas. Her journey has been full of overcoming obstacles through networking and peer-to-peer learning. Her passion is to “bring people back to growing their gardens and thus eating more from the Earth for better health.”
As a child, Kay was not a big fan of farming and did not enjoy harvesting and prepping the produce to be sold at the farmers market. When she moved to her home in Waco in 2008, she came across an empty lot full of trash and decided to buy it to transform it into a flower garden. After her purchase, her friends kept telling her to start a garden with vegetables and fruits. She was reluctant at first but eventually gave in and planted squashes. To her surprise, the squashes grew along with the zucchini, and the vegetables were huge. These vegetables were so big that people driving by would stop to look at them. She decided to sell the surplus at a small, local farmers market, and they sold out within 30 minutes. From that day on, she never looked back. She started Passion Garden with the hopes of supplying healthy produce to the local community.
Kay currently manages three acres and sustainably grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Although Passion Garden is not an organically certified farm, Kay follows organic practices and does not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. She sells herbal teas at local health stores in Waco, and her produce at the local farmers market. Her management system is free-flowing, and she works to keep the soil healthy. As a beginner farmer, she wished she would have known how to manage soil nutrients like nitrogen naturally as opposed to the conventional method of depending on synthetic fertilizers. She makes her own compost and is determined to garden without chemical fertilizers, since some have been associated with severe health risks like cancer.
Through workshops and conference attendance, Kay has managed to learn from multiple presenters. Attending conferences has allowed her to learn things she would not have learned otherwise, not to mention allowing her to travel to different places. In fact, it was through the Minority Landowner Association conference that she got inspired to keep going in her agricultural journey and take part in other similar networks. Currently, she is the Texas president of the National Women in Agriculture and has started her own organization called Global Revive. Global Revive has begun a project called Raising Organic Wealth (ROW) to aid farmers who don’t have land by providing them with three rows to grow whatever they choose.
Kay considers herself successful as she has accomplished so much at Passion Garden and participates in multiple organizations. She says one of the greatest barriers for farmers in her community is acquiring land, which she plans to address through Global Revive, which has allowed her to provide 13 farmers with land, equipment sharing, and an opportunity to network with other small-scale farmers.