JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Springfield man who has been gardening for nearly 25 years is on a mission to help families across the First Coast start their own gardens.
Nathan Ballentine, who turns 32 years old on Wednesday, has been gardening since he was 8 years old.
"I started gardening with my mother when I was 8 years old in our front yard and I grew some raggedy lettuce and some short little stubby carrots, but something about that was magical," Ballentine said.
Ballentine is known in Springfield as the man in the overalls. He helps people in the area grow their own groceries, but hopes to expand that help across the First Coast.
"For a couple hundred dollars, if you invest that into a garden, you can yield back a thousand dollars easily," he said.
Ballentine said he hopes to also educate families about the importance of eating a healthy diet.
"Kids are expected to live not as long as their parents and so much of that has to do with diet and chronic disease," he said.
Ballentine said you can grow a salad in just three weeks if you have the right ingredients.
"Soil, sunlight, water," he said.
Ballentine started his business in 2009, but started it in Jacksonville two years ago. He helps people design a garden, install it and maintain it using his own garden as an example.
"It's cost effective and it's helping me eat healthier," he said.
Sheilagh Cassidy hired Bellentine to help her grow her own food. She said she now has enough to share with friends and family.
"I've driven my daughter crazy... I've pulled out so much lettuce and every time I see her, she's like 'don't bring anymore lettuce," Cassidy said.
If you're interested in learning more, Ballentine has free online tutorials that you can access by clicking here. He also has free workshops to community groups who want to start their own garden.
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