WATCH NOW: ‘The Urban Botanists’: Two Jackson Ward residents planting gardens in neighborhood alleyways and tree wells | Richmond Latest News

“Looking at things a little more closely, I started thinking about what can I do to fix or improve it,” he said. “I would pull weeds, pick up trash. I was doing little things first. Then I started realizing that I could take it a step further.”

“It’s a bummer to see soil that isn’t growing something,” he said. “That’s a waste of precious space.”

His initial experiments have expanded to more than 16 tree wells and a handful of spots in alleys between Broad, Marshall and Clay streets.

Unlike a community garden at a church or nonprofit community center, Bain’s plants are cover crops; not necessarily intended for harvesting produce, but helpful for stormwater retention and beautifying the city’s streets and alleyways.

Still, that doesn’t stop some people from harvesting what grows.

While walking through the neighborhood earlier this month, one of his neighbors mentioned that she’s plucked herbs and used them in her kitchen.

Others during the jaunt also commended his work.

Michael Wynn, owner and operator of Walnut Alley LLC, a private waste management company that serves about two dozen clients in the downtown area, joyfully referred to Bain as “the Urban Botanist.”

“When I first saw you in action, you had the tweezers going in between the rocks. I said, ‘look at this guy!’ I was about to call social services over here,” Wynn said, joking with Bain about how he thought it seemed unusual at first. “Then I saw your results.”