Pa. Army veteran grows relationships in backyard garden

AMBLER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — “I believe that what I do has to benefit someone and I have to see that,” said Jeri “Momma J” Brockington.

After high school, Brockington served in the US Army for two years. But her commitment to the ministry began even earlier.

She learned how to cultivate a strong community in her great-grandmother’s garden. There, the matriarch generously gave away free food to her neighbors. It’s a trait Brockington would emulate in her retirement.

“When we moved here, I ran straight into this yard and envisioned using every area of ​​the space to grow food,” she said. “I went door to door introducing myself and encouraging my neighbors to grow.”

As interest in gardening grew, so did Momma J’s Country Gardening. Brockington would invite neighbors into their backyard for free products, education, and Bible verses. That led to her YouTube channel, where she can reach an audience outside of her neighborhood.

“It’s not money,” Brockington said. “Just a smile makes the difference for me.”

But beyond the tomatoes and cucumbers in her garden, Brockington maintains strong relationships within her community.

“You can often go years without knowing any of your neighbors,” said Frank Dunsmore. “And whenever I came to this area, she was one of the few people who was always there.”

Neighbors have developed something of a green thumb around Momma J.

“I’m not the type of person to grow plants, but she’s done a great job with gardening and things like that,” Dunsmore said. “If knowledge is power, she gave it away.”

Brockington encourages others to think back to a simpler time and learn how to care for one another. In the wake of the pandemic lockdowns and tornado of September 2021, it has become more important to them than ever.

“These are times when the only way we can get through this is if we work together,” she said.

To find out more about Momma J’s Country Gardening, visit her Facebook page.

RELATED: ‘Faces of West Chester’: The pandemic portrait project brings the neighborhood together

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