Young entrepreneur Jason Garland is ‘an example of what one can achieve given the opportunity’

Jason Garland admits he taxed his family when he took over the backyard in his Penn Hills home.

The two small planter beds he initially installed in 2019 increased to eight. He started spending more time raising tomatoes, kale, mustard greens, adding arugula, six different types of peppers, and even cantaloupe.

But when he wanted to use one of the last remaining patches of green, his family resisted.

“They all support me, but they became a little bit annoyed when I said let’s take away all this grass and put a cherry tree in so we can have cherries next season,” says Jason, the 15-year-old owner of JG’s Nursery who hosts JG’s Plant Society on YouTube. “It becomes a bit repetitive when I’m pushing for additions to the additions.”

As a visual arts student at Pittsburgh CAPA, Jason found a link between tending soil and making art.

“There are so many parallels,” he says. “Growing things is an art of its own. Watching buds come up and flowers bloom, it’s a beautiful process the same way art is, the same way an oil painting is. Everything is art: gardening is art; life is art; painting is art.”

Jason’s interest in gardening and horticulture grew out of his desire to start weight training while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. After adopting a vegan diet at age 14, he saw how his physical and emotional states improved.

“I became a lot happier, and I have more joy in life,” Jason says. “I’m an entirely different person personality-wise, and that had a lot to do with my health. Being vegan opened a lot of doors to learning more things, including meditation and yoga. It’s like being on a positivity train, and it’s changed almost every part of my life in a better way.”

He started his business by selling lucky bamboo to classmates at CAPA last year, a week before making his debut at Handmade Arcade. He expanded his efforts to launch JG’s Nursery in April.

Jason’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Justin Mazzei, executive director of the MCG Youth & Arts, came to know him as Jason worked his way through MCG classes in ceramics, photography and digital art. He’s been taking classes at MCG since sixth grade.

“Through his creative expression and spirit and spirit, Jason positively impacts everyone he comes in contact with,” Mazzei says. “He reminds us a lot of our founder, Bill Strickland. Jason is a living example of what one can achieve given the opportunity.”

While Jason has many interests, he has no trouble balancing them most of the time, he says. He completes his schoolwork, works on his gardening and art – he’s an aspiring sculptor – and makes sure he gets enough sleep every night.

Over time, he has learned to be more patient, too. As he says, “you can’t fast forward gardening. There are no short cuts.”

One day he would like to acquire land to start a community garden and a subscription service where he is paid to grow food for clients. He also wants to supply free vegetables and goods to his community. Looking ahead to college, he is considering a focus on art and horticulture.

Mazzei thinks Jason is only beginning to tap his potential.

“Jason is curious about the world around him and strives to make a difference through his creative imagination,” Mazzei says. “He is who you want to be when you grow up. He is an inspiration.”