Mill Ridge Community Farm: A Place to Grow

By TNFP’s Impact Manager, Grace Biggs

TNFP’s Urban Agriculture Programs have come a long way from when we first broke ground on a small plot behind our kitchen in 2009. Now, almost 10 years later, programs include includes vibrant production, community and market gardens across our city…

In production gardens, hundreds of Nashvillians from all walks of life receive informal agricultural education through volunteer activities each year while supplying our kitchens with thousands of pounds of produce.  The community gardens provide people who face barriers to growing their own food with a space to reconnect or connect to the practice of growing food. And through an innovative market garden program, New Americans from agrarian backgrounds are growing produce to sell for personal income. Beyond the value of their earnings, these farmers are able to reconnect with farming to contribute financially to their families through meaningful work.

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To continue and expand these thriving programs, we are excited to announce a new partnership with Metro Parks and Friends of Mill Ridge Park to develop a community farm at Metro Nashville's newest Regional Park, Mill Ridge Park in Antioch. Through an intensive, year-long public planning process for the park, the community was asked to share their vision for the space. The first theme that arose? Food! Specifically, growing and cooking food as a way to celebrate community, share special occasions, and learn about different cultures.

We’re delighted to be a part of bringing this vision to life! This season, TNFP is opening community garden programming at Mill Ridge with 15 families, providing access to land, tools, resources and monthly garden trainings and work days throughout the season. We’ll also be starting production gardens to supply food for TNFP’s meals program.

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As you might imagine, starting a new farm is no small task! We are enjoying creating a vision for the community farm that will preserve a piece of rural Nashville while becoming a vibrant site of community agriculture for this growing area of Nashville.  We are digging into the work of clearing out old storage buildings, improving access, building site infrastructure like water and fencing. Moving our greenhouse from our original garden in Green Hills to the Mill Ridge site in December was a milestone in the process, and we plan to have it operational by mid-summer.  In the coming months we’ll be building community garden beds and transplanting perennial herbs and flowers. Amidst all this activity, we’re trying to save space to just enjoy the beautiful setting and dream about the spring.

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We’ll be posting regular volunteer opportunities to support the continued work needed to get the farm off the ground and running. You can view the dates/times and sign up for volunteer openings here.

We’re excited to see you there!

Read the full Park Master Plan for Mill Ridge here.