DeShantee ``Nikki`` Oliver
“When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear.” ― Maya Angelou
DeShantee “Nikki” Oliver, a DC native has lived in Ward 8 for the past twenty-five years. With a lifelong passion for gardening, she has dedicated her life to becoming a professional horticulturist, specializing in Urban Agriculture and tropical plants. As a horticulturist at the Gaylord National Harbor, she combined a love of plants with her love of community organizing, arranging the resort’s first Plants For Food clothing and food drive. While acting as a horticulturist at Hillwood Estate and Museum Nikki, an awarded orchid grower, became the first Horticulturist of color in the museum’s history and the first horticulturist tasked with responsibilities within every department including orchid curation and cut flower production.
Of all her accomplishments as a self-taught horticulturist, none are more significant than her time as School Garden Coordinator for the District of Columbia Public Schools. During this time she became active in community empowerment, helping organize the community to resist the detrimental effects of food apartheids and food deserts. During her time as DCPS Garden Coordinator, Nikki created a free backpack program, food pantry, and farmers market for school families and area residents. This was achieved with zero funding and with resources procured solely from the community.
Directing efforts to community sustainability and horticulture as a life skill is her life’s mission. She believes there is no greater privilege than doing what you do best for your community. Nikki is also a licensed cosmetologist and nail technician and has also been an area dance instructor for over fifteen years.