Sojourner Truth Center garden rejuvenation project


ST. PETERSBURG — Winnie Foster was strolling in Office Depot one day when she noticed two young boys tumbling around on the floor. She pointed her cane at them and asked if they were for sale. The boys’ father replied, “No, but they are for rent.”

Foster, 90, was actually on the lookout for volunteers to help rejuvenate her garden. She saw that the two boys were energetic enough. She told them that lots of weeding needed to be done, but they could earn a prize if they did a good job.

Foster is no regular citizen but one of St. Petersburg’s most prominent community activists. She has been a community activist since the 1960s. From People for Peace to end the Vietnam War to the Pinellas County Democratic Party, she is more active than most 20-year-olds.

“I consider myself…a seeker of truth,” Foster said.

She founded the Sojourner Truth Center, an organization on a mission to help people become good citizens.

Sojourner Truth, Winnie Foster, MLK, featured“Educate the community on issues that affect the community… to help make change,” she said, noting that one of her organization’s activities include meeting city government officials.

She and her late husband Al started an organic garden, which is part of the Sojourner Truth Center where Foster resides. The garden’s edible plants include red berries, carambola (star fruits) and moringa trees. But it has been out of commission for the last few years and Foster isn’t getting any younger.

“I promised my kids that I wasn’t going to fall again,” Foster said.

The garden project started Jan. 6 and will wrap up this MLK holiday weekend at the center, 311 57th Ave. S. On the actual day of service, she and other volunteers will be at the MLK Family Fun Day at Tropicana Field creating, painting and decorating arts and crafts with attendees.

Foster expects at least 15 volunteers including some from another group she’s a member of, the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition. Volunteers will help fix garden beds, weeding, adding compost, planting winter vegetables and trimming the hedges and the moringa trees.

She’s always stressed the importance of growing vegetables locally instead of buying at the stores, which she acknowledges are transported in fossil-fueled vehicles, harming the environment. Foster sees the project as an opportunity for people to “become better gardeners and show a better way frees you from a system of dependence.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling to go out to your yard and pick out some broccoli for your supper,” she finished.

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