Following in the footsteps of notable Black plant researchers and scientists like George Washington Carver and Percy Julian is no easy task, but Derek Haynes is more than up to the challenge. With a background in plant biology, and working in vaccine and therapeutics development using non-traditional plant-based technologies, Derek certainly practices what he preaches. Plants offer so much more than home decor, and Derek wants to show you how. He understands that the ancient and the modern don’t need to compete, but rather can work together in harmony, offering viable solutions to pressing questions like food insecurity and mind-body-spirit holistic wellness.
Merging together education, his signature wit and humour, and his keen love for plants and science, Derek’s mission is to pull the traditional knowledge of our ancestors into the mainstream. Known affectionately as The Chocolate Botanist on Instagram, Derek has built a community of nearly 10K like-minded people, who have come to respect both his incredible depth of knowledge and the palpable joy he cultivates with the subject matter.
His earnest passion has landed him features in The Guardian and Lifehacker, and he has been a guest on renowned podcasts like Black in the Garden and In Defense of Plants. He has also worked with the North Carolina Botanical Garden in developing educational workshops on botany and plant science. Through his dedicated commitment to fostering community and providing the necessary tools to expand knowledge, Derek is solidifying his place in the plant world—continuing to pave a new and sustainable path for the next generation of young, Black botanists.