Growing Memphis… One Urban Garden At A Time

By Carlissa Shaw

As our nation and our world attempt to fight the global pandemic that is Covid-19, we have all heard of a possible food shortage. The grocery stores are empty as people try to stock their pantries and prepare for the worst. Now is the perfect time to highlight the renaissance of cultivating and growing food in the urban core. Urban farming is not only trending but is an essential element to the development of the social culture and a sustainable food source in Memphis. 

Just recently, Shelby County Mayor, Lee Harris, cut the ribbon on the re-established Shelby County Community Gardens. According to the Mayor’s Instagram page, “the community gardens provide residents with free plots to produce life-sustaining fruits and vegetables.” For more information, contact community.gardens@shelbycountytn.gov.

While we look forward to the Shelby County Community Garden relaunch and specific program details, there are several community gardens in the city that are in full bloom all around town. 

Uptown

Local fireman Bobby Rich along with his wife Derravia, are the founders of Black Seeds Garden, an urban farm located in Uptown Memphis. Black Seeds is a partnership with the City of Memphis Community Development Agency to eliminate blight throughout the city. The garden will soon open and will not only offer fruits, vegetables, herbs, but also commits to creating an enjoyable outdoor living experience. Black Seed Garden anticipated a start date of May 30, 2020, but due to the Coronavirus, the date has been postponed. Follow their progress at @blackseedurbanfarms on all social media platforms. 

Frayser

Frayser is home to several beautiful urban gardens. Located on the grounds of New Hope Christian Academy, the garden is intentionally designed to touch each of the five senses of those that come in contact with it. Students in each grade level plant a seed in the ground each May after they finish testing. The Garden Club, a group of 20-25 students that meet twice a week after school, maintain the garden. A fence covered by blackberries surrounds the boundaries of the garden. On the side of the fence that is accessible to the public, the school invites the community to come and pick the thornless blackberries during the summer months. 

Frayser is home to another beautiful urban farm. The Girls Inc. Youth Farm is a 9.5-acre plot where girls grow healthy produce and engage in social entrepreneurship. Girls in their second year of Girls Inc. can qualify for a coveted position in the garden. The girls grow lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, cucumbers, okra, herbs, and flowers. The girls also man the farmer’s markets — including the Memphis Farmers Market Downtown — in which they are involved. They get a stipend for their work. For more information on Girls Inc or the Youth Farm program, visit https://www.girlsincmemphis.org/.

South Memphis

Green Leaf Learning Farm is a Knowledge Quest signature program that centers on the ⅔-acre urban micro-farm that sits directly across from their main campus. The campus is located at 590 Jenette Pl 38126 just down the street from “The People’s Grocery Store” historical marker. On the farm, students and community members learn how to grow food in ways that build community and increase the neighborhood’s access to healthy goods. The students become healthy eaters, entrepreneurs, and advocates for social and environmental justice. For more information on how to get involved, visit https://www.knowledgequest.org/.

In a city in battle with blight and urban decay, urban farming is a lethal weapon for team Memphis. Imagine a plot that once adorned a dilapidated structure is now an oasis of nourishment and beauty for the community. Join the movement, plant something!

 And for more tips on growing your own urban jungle, check our blog on the Best Gardening Resources in Memphis!

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