When Garden Coordinator Kia Brown arrived at the McGruder Community Garden on a recent morning, it didn’t take long for her to spot a couple new raspberries hanging from a vine near the garden’s front gate.
“That’s so exciting,” she said, taking a closer look. “I come in here and learn something new every day.”
Kia has been overseeing the McGruder garden located in North Nashville since June. She checks on the 24 plots for individuals and groups and holds monthly garden trainings to teach growers about proper harvesting, planting for the time of year and soil care.
“I need to let Ms. Gloria know,” she said, pointing out another new development -- a green pepper that would soon need to be picked.
While McGruder Garden doesn’t act as a production garden for The Nashville Food Project, it certainly fits with TNFP mission to bring people together to grow and share nourishing food. The garden helps cultivate community and provides access to healthy produce.
In addition to trainings, Kia hosts garden work days and helps an after school program through the 14th Avenue Missionary Baptist Church care for a community raised beds planted for any passersby who have a need for fresh produce.
Next year she plans to implement a recruiting effort that will go to neighborhood churches and community centers to bring in new plot holders. She’s helping maintain an orchard of pear and nectarine trees next to the garden plots, and she looks after the community herb garden (which is flowering this time as year) as well as compost and leaf collection bins.
Plot holders have been collecting the last of their cherry tomatoes and peppers. Next up they will have lettuces and roots such as turnips, carrots, kale, radishes and collards.
Kia helps maintain the garden through a grant from United Way, and she says her main focus is to help prepare those who grow here to work these plots independently.
"We want to share," she says, "as much information and knowledge about growing food as possible."