An ‘unsung hero’ seeks to help others to grow tasty food

When a crowd gathered in January to celebrate the dedication of the Watson Park Community Garden in Dade City, there was a man standing quietly in the background — as the festivities progressed.

That man, Brightman Logan, played a vital role in providing the support to help make the garden happen, Whitney C. Elmore, who leads the Pasco County Extension Office, told the crowd — characterizing him as an “unsung hero.”

Brightman Logan says ‘it’s so easy’ to grow delicious food, once someone understands the basics. He’s been instrumental in helping the Pasco County Extension Office in its quest to introduce more community gardens in Pasco County. (B.C. Manion)

As it turns out, Logan helped financially, but he also has given his time to help the Pasco County Extension Office pursue its plans to nurture the growth of community gardening across the county.

Logan thinks it’s important work, and he’s glad to join the University of Florida, the city of Dade City, Pasco County Schools, master gardeners and other volunteers in a quest to make it easier for people across the county to grow their own food.

“It’s really so easy, once you understand it,” said Logan, who has had affinity for the outdoors since he was a child.

Although he grew up in South Tampa, his family had a farm in Pasco County, and he always enjoyed being there.

“My family is from an agricultural background, forestry and things. My grandfather was in naval stores — (the) turpentine and pitch business.

“I grew up listening to his stories about the woods, that’s really what got me to the feel of it,” he said.

He went on to get a degree in biology and then ended up creating his own native plant nursery, and then an organic vegetable farm.

His native plant business flourished for years.

“We did all kinds of neat projects. We did work all over the state. We worked with Disney. We worked throughout the Southeast,” he said.

“When the economy went down in 2008, it just took us out. It went from great to just nothing,” he said, noting he did what he could to hang on, but ultimately had to cease operations.

Next, he branched into other things.

“We actually had an organic vegetable farm up here, called Magnolia Organics, and we ran that for about four years, 2008-2012,” he said. “We grew great food. It was so awesome.

“We would bring classes out. These kids were just blown away that you would actually just pull a carrot out of the ground. They just thought you went to Publix, where it was wrapped up, and you bought it there,” he said.

But, there just wasn’t enough buy-in to keep the organic farm going, he said.

“We were kind of ahead of the curve,” he said.

So, even though he’s shifted into different directions, he wants to share his knowledge with others.

“There are people starving out there. It’s so easy to grow your own food. We need to start teaching people and reaching out to people, and show them what they can do,” Logan said.

He’s been working with Elmore to see how he can help to create a momentum for community gardens across Pasco County.

By supplying what’s needed to establish a garden plot and by teaching people how to tend to their plots, the idea can catch on and take hold, Logan said.

“You want everybody involved,” he said. ““When you have all of these people, you have this synergy.”

By getting youths involved, he said, “you can have a lifelong impact.”

“I’ve been so blessed in my life, I want to try to help other people,” said Logan, who is married to Nan, and they have two grown children, Brightman Logan Jr., and Martha Jean Logan. They also have two granddaughters.

Published March 28, 2018

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