Makala Nerio has gone from one extreme to the other, changing a life of drug addiction into a becoming a gardening aficionado.
The Fort Stockton mother has been clean for four years now. Earlier this year she decided to start a community garden that she calls “Soul Foods Community Garden.”
The garden is located at Rafter 3 RV Park, which she owns, and has a large garden. It will soon add a greenhouse and food forest.
“The reason is there is not really an education on healthy and affordable food,” she said.
Nerio got clean four months before she got pregnant and has not looked back.
“I just wanted to give her the best,” she said.
Now a mom of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, she has dedicated her time to figuring out the healthiest foods to eat.
She really focuses on the ingredients, how the fruits and vegetables are grown, and what exactly is going in her body.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, non-gmo products, organic and pesticide free is the way to go, she says.
Eating meat is also fine, she said, but consumers should look for organic and grass-fed options, she said.
She is hoping to grow her garden into a place where she will be able to hold educational classes on how to grow the food, tastings and something to involve the kids.
“I just feel like its really important for our children to have healthy food,” she said.
During her recovery she said that she found God, and that she also found her purpose is to help people.
“I have a passion to help people,” said Nerio.
She hopes to educate the community and help others take control of their health.
Every week she has been selling the food she harvests at the farmers market, with a goal of raising $850 to get the polycarbonate for the greenhouse, so far she has $750.
She said the city donated mulch and she gets compost from Alpine.
She is hoping the community comes together to help with things like fencing materials or volunteering their time to help build the greenhouse and food forest.
She also is hoping other recovering addicts feel comfortable coming to the garden to talk and learn healthy coping mechanisms.
“Gardening is a good thing to help get you through,” said Nerio.
She also accepts “rescue plants” from people who have a dying plant they can't take care of anymore.
“I really went from one extreme to the next,” she said. “I just care about health and being more eco friendly.”