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Community Highlights: Meet Allana Ross and Jessica Blessing-Patterson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allana Ross and Jessica Blessing-Patterson.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
We both come from backgrounds in the arts, but we found that our favorite medium was plant material. Jessica has been a horticulturalist for 15 years, and Allana has been teaching and making art since moving to Saint Louis five years ago. We met through mutual friends and we discovered that we both had the same dream job–to grow local plants for local people. Lots of landscapers and retail centers drive hundreds of miles to procure their plants. We want to make that unnecessary by growing what people need right here in the city. We found a vacant lot, got a loan, and started living our dream! It’s a lot of work but we enjoy it and we get to build a little green sanctuary in the heart of the city we love.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No! COVID definitely made it hard to network, which is essential in our business. Growing plants is all about developing relationships with your clients. COVID also made it hard to get a loan because things were so backed up. And of course, building materials are in short supply and more expensive than we had planned for! But if it weren’t for COVID, we may not have made the decision to start Dig. It’s a strange time to start a business, but I think the lockdowns have really made people re-examine their relationships with their own yards. We want to see people thinking about the ecosystems in the places they live, and that seems to be happening more and more.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Dig Annuals and Perennials?
We both come from the arts and arrived at plants through curiosity about the world around us. Jessica has worked in landscape design, and Allana’s art has become more and more plant-focused throughout the years. We’ve been able to marry our love of art and our love of plants through Dig. We love unique plants and grow things you won’t see anywhere else! We grow foodscaping plants, dye plants, native perennials, and hard-to-find annuals. We are also really passionate about minimizing our environmental impact–we use only peat-free soil and are constantly searching for ways to reduce our consumption of plastic, which is definitely over-used in the horticulture industry.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
We found mentors in looking to the women in our families. We both spent a lot of time with our grandmothers, whose rural upbringings inspired us to look closer at the natural world. Getting over being shy, intimidated, and feeling like an imposter is very important in finding a mentor.

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