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Project Best Life | Home Grown

This series is sponsored by Project Best Life. Buffalo Rising and Project Best Life have teamed up to produce a series on wellness inspiration and advice to direct readers to the people, places, and experiences in Buffalo and beyond that will help them fulfill their health, nutrition, and wellness goals. For more information on how you can live your best life, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter. 

Is it just me, or does spring look and feel extra beautiful this year?

There is almost nothing that compares to seeing that first flower bloom it’s glorious petals in anticipation of the warmer weather and brighter sunshine. For many, this year taught us the importance of breathing in fresh air, and feeling the grass beneath our toes or the sun on our skin- things that all remind us exactly what it means to be human.

With help from some of the experts, the team at Project Best Life explored all of the magic behind gardening and horticulture, and just what keeping things “homegrown” can do for you.

Erin Masterson Holko – Masterson’s Garden Center

Erin Masterson Holko, an owner of Masterson’s Garden Center, is no stranger to the gardening realm. For those of you who are new to keeping plants, Erin was able to offer some pointers on what you can do to get started.

“No matter what you’re looking to do, take a class locally. There’s tons of good books and information about every hobby, but because we live in Buffalo, we have a pretty specific climate. Find your local nursery and make friends with the people that work there. There’s a wealth of information at all of those stores. Anybody that works in a nursery or has been there for awhile can provide you with some really good tips while you’re standing right there on anything from plant choice to soil health.

Gardening doesn’t have to be limited to the outdoors. For those of you living in small apartment spaces there are a multitude of plants to grow right in the comforts of your own home.

“It actually cleans the air so physically it’s changing your space-just having plants around does that. As soon as you put a plant in a room, it suddenly feels cozy and alive. I think, especially this last year, a lot of us craved connections that we didn’t have before. And it’s silly to say that you connect with your plants, but it is true. Some of us talk to our plants and that’s okay. I love to recommend herbs to anybody that’s looking to garden. They’re pretty easy and very forgiving. They grow well in containers, so they’re suited to literally anybody’s property.”

725 Olean Rd, East Aurora, NY 14052 | 716-655-0133
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun: 10am-4pm
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Jay Burney – Pollinator Conservation Association

Jay Burney, Special Projects Director for the Pollinator Conservation Association, shared that planting specific plants not only makes for a good hobby, but it actually benefits an entire ecosystem as well.

“I think of how native plants influence biodiversity and the balance of nature. So, what people can do is if they’re planting, and it doesn’t matter if you have a square foot or if you have a hundred acres, if you think about the habitat that’s there and you think about the right native plants, you can plant to encourage things like Monarch butterflies, which are in steep decline. Most of our species of insects and birds are in steep decline, and we can help them by promoting native plants. Here’s a good example: If you like chickadees, the friendly, little birds, they require a lot of insects to survive. They’re not seed eaters. So if you have one Oak tree, that one Oak tree-whether it’s a young Oak tree or an old Oak tree-supports almost a thousand species of insects.”

Western New York, more specifically Buffalo, is in one of the most important biodiverse areas on the entire planet. Making our responsibilities as stewards in this rich biodiversity, not only to learn about it, but also take part in protecting it.

“We have birds that come here from the Arctic and Amazon. So if you want to conserve the environment, conserve the Amazon, conserve the Arctic work here! We can do things here that promote the safety and the long-term beauty and survivability of these places. So just find some of your local nature organizations, and get in touch with them.”

There are a variety of places to volunteer or get involved. Some places include: Buffalo Audubon, Niagara river Greenway, and Western New York Land Conservancy.

Website | Facebook

Kristy Schmitt – Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens

Luckily for Buffalonians, we have the privilege of having a nationally historic site and education center full of exotic plants and treasures right in our backyards- the Botanical Gardens. Kristy Schmitt, Director of Education at the Botanical Gardens, shared what spending time inside the gardens can do for somebody, even on their most hectic day.

“It is so calming and relaxing. So when I’m onsite for my job, one of the things I love the most, especially if it’s been kind of a crazy day of meetings is to just walk around, take a look at the waterfall, say hi to the Koi fish and just soak up everything. So it’s not just seeing the beautiful flowers, but it’s also all the smells in the tropical greenhouse. It takes you back a bit and helps you re-center, ground, and just really enjoy being.”

The Botanical Gardens offers a variety of workshops and programs to get the whole family involved in the fun of enjoying nature.

“Well, for starters, it’s probably best getting kids excited and interested in plants. Really getting the kiddos excited in it is also going to get the adults excited too. We offer a ton of programs, especially for school kiddos. All of them relating to plants and gardening and other fun things too. We also have a number of classes online for adults. So horticulture classes with David Clark have been really popular and we also have a number of amazing art classes with wonderful instructors to get you into that side of plants too.”

2655 South Park Ave, Buffalo, NY 14218 | 716-827-1584
Hours: Sun-Wed, Fri-Sat: 10am-4pm, Thurs: 10am-7pm – Etickets required
Website |Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Spending time with nature is key in clearing through the chaos of our busy lives. Caring for plants may be just what you need in order to keep you on track toward living your best life!

For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.


In tough times, our efforts to maintain fitness, healthy nutrition, and personal wellness can fall by the wayside as we direct all our energy into navigating our individual storm. Yet, in the face of what’s happening in the world around us, it is essential to make space for self-care and experiences that fortify our physical and mental wellbeing.

Check out Project Best Life’s personal assessment tool. Get personalized health insights and a cancer screening checklist by completing this health assessment. This questionnaire will only take you around 10-15 minutes to complete. 


Trying to manage a proper work-life balance, saving for your future while paying all your bills, all while keeping strong relationships with friends and family… We know that life can get pretty stressful, and it’s easy to forget what’s best for your health both physically and mentally. Project Best Life is here to help with our podcast: Happy and Healthy. We provide tips from experts and share stories that will inspire you to live your best life, whatever that means to you. Listen now on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google

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Written and Hosted by Liberty Darr
Photography and Editing by Vin Berbano
Produced by Jessica Marinelli

Written by Liberty Darr

Liberty Darr

I am a Buffalo State student studying journalism. I love writing, art, and meeting new people. When I’m not at school or work I enjoy reading/writing poetry and watching documentaries. My favorite dynamic duo is investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I’ve been a resident of Buffalo for quite some time and I still fall in love with something new about this city everyday.

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