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Conversations with Dominique Charles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominique Charles.

Hi Dominique, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a New Orleans native, but spent many summers in Greensburg, Louisiana, with my grandparents – Paw Paw and Maw Maw, Emmitt and Thelma Muse. My grandparents were both farmers and educators, so most of our summer activities consisted of picking strawberries and blackberries, snapping beans, riding the tractors, and doing all the typical farm activities you can imagine. As a teen and early twenty-something, I didn’t spend much time in the garden or farm, but after purchasing my home in 2013, the passion for growing food was reignited by encouragement from a friend. For my housewarming, my friend, Lauren, gifted me with a starter garden that was essentially the start of Plots & Pans. I’ve always been known for my cooking, (I get down in the kitchen – toot toot, Ha!) but now I had the opportunity to grow my own food and then cook it! After the first few years of showcasing my little harvests on social media, two other friends, Ezinne and Kelly, both pushed me to make my gardening “a thing”, and that “thing” has grown significantly! I’ve had the opportunity to build gardens and garden plans in places like DC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, to San Diego, and more. Outside of the garden builds and plans I’ve had some really cool writing features in Domino, Well + Good, Brightly, Martha Stewart (twice!), and the Washington Post. Additionally, I’ve had some great on-air segments with local news in DC on NBC4, ABC7, and more widely on Martha Stewart/Discovery+, The Weather Channel, and Today Show. ….I’ve been a liiiiiiiitle busy. I genuinely enjoy gardening and cooking and plan on showcasing more cooking this year, so each opportunity to share my passions are a blessing. I look forward to more and pray I inspire people to try growing at least one thing they enjoy eating.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. I’ve been challenged with imposture syndrome, self-doubt, busyness in my full-time work, and regular life chaos. Also, I’m constantly challenged by social media! I have so many ideas but don’t always know how to execute them the way I imagine them. I give so many kudos to the full-time creatives! Overall, having a great support system in place has helped me deal with the challenges and push forward.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
My work is being a gardener and garden consultant, with some really cool opportunities to share my work in the media. I build gardens or create garden plans for people interested in starting or improving their home gardens. I tend to do most of my work in urban cities where space is limited, so I help my gardeners maximize the space they do have. I have a few moments that I’m most proud of: 1. Being on the Today Show is definitely a highlight. I’ve watched the show since I was a child, so the moment I stepped into Studio 1A, I was full of emotions. 2. When I chat with someone and they share that they’ve used one of my gardening tips, or that they started a garden because of me. Gardening started off as something I just did for fun, now, it’s a part of my identity, I think what sets me apart from others is that I’m genuinely myself and I’m relatable. I think people can see that I’m not putting on an act, and when I share or explain tips, I want to make sure those tips aren’t too far-fetched.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
The most important lessons I’ve learned are to be flexible and consistent gratitude. One of my favorite rap lyrics is by OutKast, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather”. You can plan out the best garden ever, but the weather is unpredictable, so have to be flexible in the sense that your garden may not be that great this year, grateful for the harvest you get, and be willing to try again next year. Gardening is a lot of trial and error.  I suggest planting a variety of things to make sure at least one item in your garden has a bountiful harvest regardless of the unpredictable factors. Also, in working with clients – I must be flexible and work with the people who have entrusted their spaces with me. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to help them build their gardens. I want to make sure they get the best experiences with my services – so really being flexible, grateful for each experience, and also remaining humble are my biggest lessons learned.


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Image Credits
All photos in overalls and yellow long sleeve shirts are credited to Rhonisha Franklin of R. Dione Foto. Black dress with me collecting tomatoes is Joel Malik. Denim one-piece photo is Natasha Boler.

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