BEM | books & more square logo - click to view menuBEM | books & more horizontal logo - click to view menu

And if you haven’t yet, join our mailing list below!

no, thanks / close

Join the BEM Mailing List!

How to Become a Gardener: Find Empowerment in Creating Your Own Food Security
Ashlie Thomas


Take charge of your family’s food security by learning how to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs—and right along with them, you’ll nurture your own inner strength, too.

Food insecurity affects millions of people worldwide. Without access to well-stocked stores or nutritious, fresh foods, those living in “food deserts” face more hunger and health issues than communities where a diversity of food is plentiful. With the inspiration and knowledge found in How to Become a Gardenerself-reliance and food autonomy are within reach for anyone willing to get a little dirt under their nails and dig in.

Author, health coach, and food security advocate Ashlie Thomas of The Mocha Gardener (@the.mocha.gardener) serves as an experienced and encouraging guide on your journey toward self-empowerment through the cultivation of your own homegrown harvests. With a spirit of respect for others, for nature, and for community, Ashlie walks you step by step through not only the practical ins and outs of gardening—from seed starting to making the harvest—but also through the personal challenges and lessons found within the act of gardening itself. Regardless of whether you only have space to grow in a few pots or you have enough room for multiple raised beds or an in-ground garden, you’ll find freedom and wellness through the food you grow, along with patience, compassion, and perspective.

How to Become a Gardener focuses on:

  • What makes a space a garden and how to get one started 
  • How gardens can be a symbol of resilience in challenging times 
  • Finding what motivates you to grow and using it to cultivate nutrient-dense, homegrown harvests 
  • Why reclaiming your food authority is one of the most empowering things you can do for you and your family 
  • The importance of finding personal freedom by growing your own garden-to-table food
  • How the garden grows you just as much as you grow the garden

How to Become a Gardener is about growing food, yes. But it’s also about finding your strength through gardeningreclaiming your food authoritydiscovering your motivation, and learning that no matter what your garden yields, it’s always worth the wait.


Ashlie Thomas is a food security and home gardening advocate known on social media as The Mocha Gardener. Several years ago, Ashlie began her gardening journey with her husband on their one-acre North Carolina homestead. Through gardening, she has become more conscientious of local food systems and the health of the environment. Ashlie’s love for wellness and the environment fueled her passion to grow food and bring awareness through practice to growing issues of food insecurity in vulnerable communities around the country.

After spending her childhood in a rural community that lacked sufficient access to nutritious foods, she understood that one way to address this barrier is through learning how to grow food and educating others on what quality foods consists of and from where it originates. Ashlie not only believes that her garden may serve as a spiritually enlightening place to ground and regenerate, but also as an opportunity to deeply connect and give reverence to what she feeds herself, her family, and her friends. It is her hope and mission to empower others to take control of their well-being through growing the very thing that sustains them…good, nutritious food.


Ashlie's book speaks to the exact philosophy I myself adhere to – becoming a gardener, rather than simply learning how to grow plants. This is a small but crucial distinction that she carries throughout her book, laying out a step-by-step process to reclaim ownership over the food you consume – by growing it yourself! A must-read for those looking to walk the path of a gardener.” -- Kevin Espiritu, Epic Gardening, author of Field Guide to Urban Gardening and Grow Bag Gardening

“This is book we need right NOW. There are many books that answer the question of how to garden, but few that show us how to become a gardener! It’s more than just growing things; it is also honoring our symbiotic relationship with all of nature, down to the tiniest bug. Ashlie serves as our knowledgeable guide in exploring both, in this beautifully written and illustrated book.” -- Kamili Bell Hill, @plantblerd

“Bursting with encouragement, information, and heart, woven together through colorful photography, Ashlie has written an inspiring roadmap that will guide you to become a conscious and grateful steward of your burgeoning garden, both inside and out.” -- Meg Cowden, @seedtofork, author of Plant Grow Harvest Repeat

“How to Become a Gardener covers the basics of how to start a garden from scratch for the first-time gardener, provides advice and emotional support to help through the challenges, and dives into the philosophy behind why gardening can transform our lives in the most beautiful of ways. With this book we can not only transform our lives and take control of our health, but also overcome food insecurity and create resilient communities. Unlike many gardening books, Ashlie is inclusive of our most vulnerable communities, making this book a true solution for many who are often left out of the conversation. To grow our own food is to begin the transformation of ourselves and our communities. How to Become a Gardener is the tool of empowerment that is needed by so many to begin this transformation.”  -- Rob Greenfield, environmental activist and author of Food Freedom

" a beautiful encapsulation of Thomas's love and appreciation for gardening that has everything you need to grow your own food and become the gardener you want to be." -- Washington Gardener Magazine

[P]  Cool Springs Press  /  November 01, 2022

0.8" H x 9.7" L x 8.3" W (1.45 lbs) 208 pages