Farmers: Logan Williams and his father, Jimmy Williams, co-owners of Logan’s Garden. Tatiana Blackington James

Tatiana Blackington James, Special to the Daily Press

Jimmy Williams and his son, Logan, know their roots. Proud descendants of the Gullah people, the Williams bring centuries of history and know-how to their plant and bespoke landscaping business, Logan’s Garden.

“This whole thing is a grandma story,” says Jimmy, sitting among his bright green seedlings. “The Gullah were incredible farmers. Rice began in this country in Charleston, South Carolina through the Gullah people.”

In West Africa, rice had been cultivated for thousands of years, earlier than in China, according to Jimmy. Europeans captured and enslaved farmers from the region and brought them to South Carolina plantations. In addition to their horticultural expertise, the West Africans were resistant to malaria, an immunity the white landowners had not developed. As a result, they were left to tend the fields, enjoying a relative amount of autonomy compared to others in forced servitude. Their combined languages evolved into Gullah, the only African creole still spoken in the United States.

“There was no Trader Joe’s,” says Jimmy, who moved to California from the East Coast after getting married. Whatever you ate, you had to grow, a habit passed down through the generations.

Logan Williams grew up near plenty of supermarkets, but he spent his weekends helping Jimmy in their backyard garden.

“To be honest, when I was a little kid, I hated it.”

After years of giving away their surplus plants, when Logan was 16, they opened a stand at the Hollywood Farmers Market. “It took about five to six years to even make a dollar.”

It wasn’t until they started designing and building home gardens for others that the business really took off. Now they maintain backyard plots for numerous A-list actors, writers and Hollywood executives. Everything is organic – “fertilizers, soils and seeds” – and the Williams have had to leave their home near Larchmont Village for a larger property in Silver Lake.

“Still,” says Logan, “We’re one of the more local vendors.”

In 2010, Jimmy co-authored a book (with Susan Heeger), From Seed to Skillet (Chronicle Books), inaugurated with a blurb and a launch party by none other than Michael Pollan, the country’s leading intellectual foodie.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, which exposed the fragility of our supply chains, taking agency over one’s food production suddenly appealed to many who had never been interested in gardening. The Williams were busy before, but demand soon exploded. Jimmy is considering another printing of the book.

Their market stand, at the intersection of Third Street and Arizona Avenue, offers potted herbs and vegetables to nurture at home, including many heirloom varieties unavailable at garden centers. Whether you need a little supply of mint for your summer salads – the Williams grow over 80 varieties – or a 1000-square-foot vegetable garden for your live-in chef – Logan’s Garden can make it bloom.

Santa Monica has four weekly farmers markets including the Wednesday Downtown market on Arizona Avenue between 4th and Ocean from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Saturday Downtown market on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 2nd Streets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Saturday Virginia Ave. Park market at 2200 Virginia Avenue from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Sunday Main Street market at 2640 Main Street from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.