The fruits of her labor: Nkoula Badila creates better choices for Hudson’s diverse communities.

By Mitch Rustad

Happiness for me is being in a good mental space, healthy and connected to nature,” says Nkoula Badila, a native of Hudson, NY who’s making a unique and profound impact as the founder of Grow Black Hudson. “I love that feeling of community, where you have neighbors and feel like you’re in a safe environment.”

Badila describes Grow Black Hudson as a “movement” aimed at supporting, educating and helping the Black and Brown communities in the area literally build their own gardens (whether in their own backyards, planters or small patches of land) to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs. The movement was born during the peak of the pandemic, when grocery store shelves were half-empty and food uncertainty was prevalent.

“Hudson has been deemed a food desert in many ways, because a lot of people here haven’t had access to or knowledge of a healthier lifestyle, so Grow Black Hudson tries to bridge that gap,” says Badila, who also serves as g0-between helping redistribute everything from seedlings to soil, often from the front porch of her family home. “We connect with local organic farmers who have overstock of all kinds of seedlings including vegetables, fruits, herbs and they’re able to support us.”

For Badila, sharing her passion for food and healthier living is a source of happiness as well. “I’m kind of a garden tender,” she says. “I help people tend these gardens and learn to work with the earth. It’s like we’re a family. If people are sick, I’ll make them medicine teas and help them learn about different herbs.”

Being so close to nature is another key to happiness for Badila, 31, whose family moved to Hudson in 1997.

“I love it here because there’s so much access to nature,” he says. “That’s a beautiful thing. You can go just ten minutes out of town in any direction, and see deer and all kinds of greenery, and have that best of both worlds’ reality. Nature is very healing for people, and it’s accessible to anyone, of any background, at any time. I love that.”

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