FIU professor begins community garden in Brownsville (includes video story)

Dr. Iqbal Akhtar, a professor at Florida International University, knew he wanted to make a difference and help others in life. He was living with his wife in a Brickell apartment when he realized that he wanted a home that was much closer to nature. So Dr. Akhtar found a home in Brownsville and hoped it would be a chance to do something for others in the low-income neighborhood.

After the move, Dr. Akhtar started gardening around his house. He grew flowers, herbs, and some fruit trees. Once his plants grew, neighbors became curious. They wanted to have some fruits and herbs as well. Dr. Akhtar said the neighborhood was a food desert — there were few places to buy groceries nearby —  and many people didn’t have cars. “There’s basically very little funding that’s going into the parks or anything around the area,” said Dr. Akhtar.

Across Dr. Akhtar’s house, there was a park that was not being used. He took advantage of this opportunity to start planting more fruit trees and herbs so that everyone in the community could have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The NFL heard about the project and contributed by donating a pilot box. The members of the community also help by gardening so that they can transform the park for everyone.


Born in Kenya, Sayona came to Florida when she was 5 years old. Her major is broadcast media, and she hopes to become an anchor one day.