Since last fall, we’ve been busy breaking ground and building infrastructure at our newest garden site in southeast Nashville - the Community Farm at Mill Ridge Park. Located in Metro Nashville's newest regional park, this community farm will be a new home to TNFP garden programs. So much planning, love and work has already been poured into this project, and we were incredibly excited to celebrate with a grand opening of the farm on Saturday!
From the moment staff, volunteers and gardeners first arrived to begin set up on the morning of the party, this was truly a community event. Everyone pitched in with setting up tables, chairs, activity stations, flower arranging, and more.
As guests arrived, staff began to offer tours of the gardens. This year, TNFP is opening the farm with two elements of our garden programming: production and community gardens. The production gardens offer a way for folks to play a role in growing food for our meals program, engaging volunteers in a small-scale and efficient garden. The community garden at Mill Ridge hosts 12 families this season, offering land, resources and education opportunities for folks to grow food for themselves and their families, with plans to expand next year.
Throughout the property, visitors to the farm also found opportunities to engage in community art projects, a comfrey planting, and offerings of free plants and seeds for their own home gardens. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a TNFP event without lots of snacks, marked with a “Lettuce Eat!” sign.
Next, everyone gathered in the tent for an INCREDIBLE line-up of speakers. Lauren Bailey, Hannah Davis and Christa Bentley of TNFP, Darrell Hawks of the Friends of Mill Ridge Park, Monique Odom of Metro Parks, Metro Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell, Community Gardener Bridget Bryant, Vanessa Lazon from the Mayor’s Office, and a beautiful performance and blessing by Rashad Rayford of Southern Word. The speakers talked about their excitement for people to have the opportunity to grow their own food in community at this farm.
We were also honored to have Ms. Mary Moore and Ms. Aileen Williamson attend the celebration, whose family owned and ran the property as a family livestock farm beginning in 1919. Before it was purchased by the Moore family, the property was owned by the Holloway family, who grew commodity crops and kept livestock. When the Holloways settled here in 1850, they had two young children and owned 32 slaves. In 2015, Metro Parks of Nashville purchased the Moore Farm and several adjacent properties to create what is now Mill Ridge Park.
As the speakers closed, Sankofa African Drum and Dance of Tennessee led us all in dancing together as a community. They shared with us that Sankofa is an Akan word that means, "We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”
This call to understand our past, including slavery and the genocide of native peoples, is vital to understanding where we are today in agriculture. At TNFP we envision vibrant community food security where people have the food they want and need through a just a sustainable food system. We know that we have never had a just and sustainable food system, so we hope that you'll join us in this work to create a just and sustainable food system through this community farm!
Learn more about volunteering in our gardens at thenashvillefoodproject.org/givetime.