Meet Goo: A rapping, viral TikToker and father of 7 who's becoming the new face of gardening
- Corey Paul, also known as Goo, created an online gardening community called "Gardening with Goo."
- Paul, 37, encourages home gardening and sustainability with viral TikTok videos and plant-themed rap songs.
Corey Paul originally loved to fish, spending hours drifting along Florida waters, but he's more grounded these days.
Nestled in the back of Paul's Fort Pierce home is his internet-famous garden, where he teaches his more than 570,800 followers across social media — known as the Green Thumb Gang — the intricacies of growing and nurturing plants.
But the Green Thumb Gang doesn't follow Paul, also known as "Goo," because he preaches tips or mimics traditional gardening icons. Instead, they follow him because he doesn't.
His brand "Gardening with Goo" blossomed during the pandemic by encouraging people to start urban gardens with TikTok videos and plant-themed rap songs. Paul's passion sparked when he began having children, which encouraged him to find an at-home hobby instead of going out to fish.
"It's the first day of spring, and I'm out here in the garden," Paul, a 37-year-old father of seven, raps in one of his most popular TikTok videos. "Water boy because I give H2O to my babies. Rosemary bush growing crazy. Cabbages — ain't getting ate up by no worms because I ain't having it."
He told Insider that sharing his videos not only birthed a growing online community but highlighted the importance of sustainability and diversity in gardening.
The Green Thumb Gang blossomed after Paul launched the "Gardening with Goo" Facebook page in 2019
Paul knows that he's breaking stereotypes and reframing what gardeners traditionally have looked like: elderly, white, and retired. During the pandemic, a surge of Black gardeners found their voice and a supportive community on social media.
Most of them boomed on TikTok, but by then, Paul had already made a name for himself on Facebook. He initially posted pictures and videos of his garden to his personal Facebook page, but later made an official "Gardening with Goo" account in 2019.
"The following then wasn't nearly where it is now," Paul told Insider. "It was just like, 'Oh, you grew collard greens? Whoop-de-do.'"
As more people came across his content, his gardening tips and updates saw more reach. He later joined Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and finally TikTok, where his positive disposition and clever songs helped him reach a whole new generation of botanists.
"I was trying to change the face of gardening because when you close your eyes and think of a gardener, you probably see an old person," Paul said. "Now, people can close their eyes and see Goo."
And it's not just Paul who's dishing out advice. The Green Thumb Gang is a growing community of home gardeners who offer support and resources on Gardening with Goo's Facebook page.
"My members in the group are so informative. I don't even have to answer some of the questions that come in," Paul said. "And sometimes they teach me! That's what we're there for. We're a community that keeps each other going."
Paul also shared his love of gardening with his children, who often spend time with him in his garden – something he's grateful for.
"Being a content creator has its challenges because being a father comes first," Paul said. "Thank God my kids love being outside because that's where 80% of my content is created. Now that the kids are back in school, I'm able to work on more content during the day, and I'm able to be home earlier in the afternoon to help with homework."
People online love Paul's music, but he wants them to know the importance of sustainability
According to Paul, music has always been a part of his life. His most popular song was shared in March on TikTok, where it gained 2.7 million views and encouraged users to plant a garden.
"It's time to start a garden, baby," Paul raps in the video. "I promise it will be your therapy. And if you run into some problems, baby. Just know that you can call on me."
Paul said that he noticed food disparities in his hometown, with some relying on food banks and distribution centers for their meats, fresh produce, and more. The US Census found that 28% of Fort Pierce residents lived in poverty in 2021, and nonprofit organization Hebni Nutrition Consultants identified food deserts in the city.
Since sharing his videos, some of Paul's viewers said his work had inspired them to start their own gardens, which makes Paul ecstatic.
"If you can save money by growing your own food, why not?" Paul said, adding that homegrown vegetables are often a healthier option than fast food joints and it's a solution to food deserts.
"It comes down to sustainability," he said. "I want to be able to protect my home front. I know I got something growing back there with value."
Better Me tips for sustainable living
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