In 1992, Brandon resident and avid gardener Vicki Parsons purchased a dozen neem trees to be used as a nontoxic pesticide in her garden. Its oil reduces insect feeding, acts as a repellant and interferes with insect hormone systems, making it more difficult for insects to grow and lay eggs.
After reading a book, Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems, published by the National Research Council, and reading about reports on neem as a medicinal herb, including its anti-inflammatory properties, she put it to the test.
She had just been told she’d have to put her 9-month-old Rottweiler to sleep because of irreparable congenital joint issues. Upon learning that neem can be used as an anti-inflammatory, she made a neem tea from fresh leaves and poured it over his food for a week. Soon after, he was able to walk without whimpering and went on to live a long and happy life.
In 1996, Parsons, Neem Tree Farms founder and chief dirt farmer, created a website for neem trees but soon began selling capsules, lotion, shampoo, soap and a complete line of facial care products made from the plant.
Parsons is a firm believer in the effectiveness of the product. After starting a daily regimen of neem capsules, she noticed a change in her vision. Forty years ago, she was diagnosed with nearsightedness and astigmatism and had been wearing glasses since college.
“I thought my vision had deteriorated because I couldn’t see with my glasses,” said Parsons.
She visited her eye doctor, who performed tests and was surprised to learn her eyesight had improved and glasses were no longer needed.
“I had been wearing them so long it never dawned on me to try and see without them,” she joked.
As a thriving wholesaler of neem products, Parsons is still a gardener at heart and hosts a monthly plant swap at the tree farm on the first Saturday of most months from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. She shares clippings from her garden and other gardeners bring several types of plants from their own gardens to swap.
“It’s a fun outing, and you never know what you’re going to walk away with,” said Parsons.
Neem Tree Farms, located at 602 Ronele Dr. in Brandon, is open by appointment only.
For more information or to purchase neem products, visit www.neemtreefarms.com or call 813-689-2616.