Photo By Brian Tietz

Along the Gulfshore


Defenders Of The Gulf – Millisa Bell

Sure, Millisa Bell might like to save the world, but she’s practical enough not to chase windmills. Instead, she nudges people toward sustainability and environmental stewardship through example. Bell,  also known as the “The Unruly Gardner,” grows plants and saves seeds from her Pine Island home, which serves as a model of how nature thrives without chemical-laden interventions. “When I see frogs, dragonflies, bees, wasps—all these different critters—I know that I’m doing something right,” she says. “It’s not necessarily that they need us, they just need us to stop messing with them.” 

Photo By Brian Tietz

Bell, who works as an organic gardening consultant, promotes local produce grown from seeds tailored to Southwest Florida’s climate. She believes food production offers a powerful argument for land conservation and that gardening promotes connections between growers and consumers and between people and the land. Industrial farming threatens those ties and takes the adventure out of eating:­­ “You get three kinds of lettuce choices in the store, but there are 200 varieties you can grow.”

She knows not everyone can garden, but anyone can visit a farmers’ market. It’s those small, individual actions that collectively make a difference. “The one thing I can do is try to give back more than what my life on the planet is taking.”