Stepping onto a tree-lined residential street off White Oak, you expect to see some flowers here and there, maybe a singular fruit tree in a couple backyards, but it’s hard to think that Houston would allow for the weather, let alone the space or time, to have an actual garden or even a small farm. However, once you turn onto Wrightwood, you’ll find real estate agent JONATHAN CORREIA’S house and his lush side lawn full of fruit trees, flowers, vegetables and a newly acquired beehive. When asked how he acquired the land, he cites the generosity of the City of Houston. “They were just excited someone wanted to use the empty lot; it’s considered a wildlife sanctuary now,” he replies nonchalantly as we walk around the yard.
His love of food and cooking began at a young age, from childhood to culinary school to coming to Houston and working for the Mandola restaurant family. He sees food and cooking for others as a show of love, rather than a chore, because “everybody loves food,” he says with a smile. Besides his love of food, the act of growing something, especially a piece of healthy food that can be eaten by those that grew it, is a huge lesson that can help shape future generations who might not be informed about healthy eating habits.
While being a chef and culinary expert makes sense with Correia’s love of gardening, real estate seems like a drastic change. Yet, it speaks directly to his strengths. “The people skills I acquired and my interest in area history and culture made real estate the smart choice. Moreover, the flexibility in real estate has given me the time to volunteer with the Harris County Master Gardener Association and bring my passion for horticulture to the citizens of our county and state.” Being a part of the Master Gardener Association in Houston has allowed him to take his love of good food and responsibility in growing the food to elementary school students all over the city, teaching them about healthy habits.
Now, as a real estate agent, he gives away his home-grown fruit or vegetables – and soon-to-come honey – as parting gifts when he sells a property. “I think about what people like, where they’re going to be living, and I adjust that for the gift. I know that you’ve got a big yard and a little kid, I’ll give you a little satsuma tree so the kid can pick it off the tree and eat it right there, or an apartment with a window box gets herbs.”
No wonder his business continues to grow.