Davidson Realty Spotlight: Shirley Barber

June 20, 2018


Wandering through the offices of Davidson Realty, it is easy to find professionals with a wide range of talents and hobbies. On a given day, you may meet a mountain climber, author, philanthropist, world traveler, fitness competitor or artist.


You may also run into Shirley Barber, who boasts an incredible passion of her own. For 13 years, Shirley has served as Master Gardener for the University of Florida extension program IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or simply UF/IFAS). She is also a gardening teacher, speaker and consultant for other organizations and schools throughout Florida.


Shirley’s dedication is remarkable by any standard. She has volunteered more than 15,000 hours in the past 13 years, topping 1,700 hours during the past two years alone.

In addition,she recently exceeded 60,000 plants grown, donated and installed in the gardens at the St. Johns County Agriculture Center, with many thousands more donated to other community outreach programs.


We recently caught up with Shirley to learn more.


Tell us about your school and community garden efforts.  I donate plants grown from seed to various gardens coordinated and implemented by volunteers at six Ponte Vedra elementary schools (41 classrooms total and 781 involved students). So far this year I have donated 576 seasonal vegetable plants to the PV schools; for example, tomato, Swiss Chard, broccoli, kale and others.

I have also donated plants to gardens coordinated by Master Gardeners at Sebastian Middle School, St. Augustine Youth Services, the St. Augustine Homeless Coalition, the St. Augustine Council on Aging (I installed hundreds of plants in the initial Millen Memorial Garden), Alpine Groves Park, Community Assisted Agriculture…to name just a few.

What kind of fundraising efforts do you participate in?  I organize, donate plants and conduct sales that fund the Master Gardener Memorial garden at the St. Johns Agriculture Center. I also donate plants to the Master Gardener plant sales during our public events. Proceeds fund maintenance of the 53 acres at the St. Johns County Agriculture Center.


You are also an award-winning gardener. Tell us about that.  In 2015 I compiled information for the petition to be named an All-American Selections (AAS) Display Garden for the St. Johns County Agriculture Center. We were awarded that honor based on the consistency and beauty of our gardens.  I am project leader for the AAS program at the Ag Center. I propagate vegetable and flower varieties from seed for the AAS gardens. I design and install floral displays in the AAS and Shade gardens with focus on two major garden events in April and October. I couldn’t maintain these beautiful gardens throughout the year without the help of other hard-working Master Gardeners.


What inspires you to work so hard helping others?  I’ve been blessed with great gardening skills that allow me to contribute in so many ways. I am fortunate to have the energy and motivation to share and inspire others. The gardens function as outdoor classrooms for home schooled children, 4H participants, school garden tours, and wildlife camps. Children must be exposed to nature and gardening to ensure the future of agriculture. The latest flowers and old fashion favorites are displayed along with edible varieties. Seasonal displays provide education, inspiration, and gardening trends.

I am hoping my classes will transfer skills to others, so they will be inspired to provide support to the many causes that need contributions. My message is that we must provide community service using our skills to help others.


Shirley is Assistant and Transaction and Marketing Coordinator for Davidson Broker Associate Realtor® Suzy Evans. She has been a part of the Davidson Realty family for 12 years.


Learn more about Shirley’s important work at http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/or visit the St. Johns County Agriculture Center at 3125 Agricultural Center Drive (exit at the St. Augustine Outlets).

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