In Bartlett Park, a local’s passion for gardening motivates her to educate her community

By: Madeline Seiberlich

By: Madeline Seiberlich

“If you ever want my help just say children, garden or elderly.”

These are the passions that drive Ava DeVaux in her work in the community of South St. Pete. For the past 6 years, she has been a driving force behind the Bartlett Park Community Garden.

You can find her there throughout the week caring for the crops and teaching others how to do the same. She loves being able to show people how food grows and what it looks like since many people are only used to seeing food in stores.

Originally from Quitman, Georgia, Ava was raised on a farm.

“This is me, I’m an outdoors person”, she says. She grew up in the country with her grandparents who took care of everything on the farm. From all the crops to the livestock, they did it all. Eventually, there were 8 children living with her grandparents and they each had their own gardens.

“We competed with each other. You name it, we were growing it.” This is where Ava’s love for gardening started. From age 9 until 21 she worked as a field hand as a way to make money and help her grandparents. Ava’s passion for gardening also came from her mother who is a gardener. “Mom has a green thumb.”

By: Madeline Seiberlich

Ever since moving to St. Petersburg, Ava recalls driving by the Bartlett gardening and noticing how beautiful it was. One day she decided to stop by and start helping.

After meeting Mr. Tony and Andrea, some of the first people who created the garden, she couldn’t stay away. “We all gelled perfectly, and they saw that I knew what I was doing”, she adds. 

Ava has passed her love for gardening down to her grandchildren. They visit the community garden with her and she teaches them how to take care of it.

Her grandchildren know the importance of garden eco-systems as Ava has taught them how the bees, ladybugs, and birds are all a part of the bigger garden community.

After the crops have been harvested, they walk around the neighborhood and offer them to those who live nearby. This is how they invite the community in to join them and take a part in helping in the garden.  Lately, there’s been an increase in volunteers and garden members, but many people are still not aware of the garden’s existence.

 “You’ve got vegetables right here, come and get them,” Ava says.

Currently, the garden is working on three new projects. They are planning on adding grape vines to the garden again and growing moringa trees to help replenish the soil. Another project they are developing involves adding murals to the garden.

By: Madeline Seiberlich

DeVaux explains that this will be a special way to invite residents in and show them all the garden is doing. They would also like to add a second solar panel, which is how they get the energy to run their watering system. The garden doesn’t use electricity and runs off of solar power.

Ava’s passion for the garden and community is evident in everything she does. When you meet her, you feel welcomed and sense that you’ve known her for years. As she continues to share her passion with others she says that she is, “loving every minute of it.”

To learn more about the Bartlett Park Community Garden visit: