Grow Local

Cultivating an urban farming culture ensures that more people are growing food, and that more local farms and gardens are becoming sustainable for future generations.

We envision a community with full access to affordable, fresh, locally, and sustainably grown food. Everyone can  grow their own food, share knowledge of sustainable growing practices, support urban and rural farmers, and cultivate community. We value environmental sustainability, a commitment to underserved populations, blight reduction and beautification, community collaboration and development, empowerment and self-reliance.

HISTORY

What we’ve accomplished

  • GrowMemphis helped communities build gardens to improve access to locally grown food in their neighborhoods through a network of more than 55 gardens in 15 zip codes in the City of Memphis, envisioning neighborhoods with full access to affordable, fresh, locally, and sustainably grown food.

  • Every year, GrowMemphis provided start-up funding and training to neighborhood residents who wished to create and sustain gardens. These gardens eliminated blighted property, produced fresh and healthy food, and provided opportunities for community building. Each garden was as unique as the neighborhood in which it was found. GrowMemphis’ goal was to help new gardeners identify their most important needs and to provide the training and resources to help gardeners realize their vision.

  • GrowMemphis partnered with the Memphis Public Library Benjamin L. Hooks Branch to create the GrowMemphis Seed Library.

In 2001, Alcine Arnett, a member of the Board of Directors of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, proposed to start a community garden in the Orange Mound neighborhood where she lived. Ms. Arnett was concerned by the growing rift between neighborhood youth and senior citizens. Young people had little respect for their elders, and seniors lived in increasing fear of young people. The generations had become estranged. Ms. Arnett saw the garden as a way to reconnect the youth and seniors by capitalizing on the experience and gardening know-how of the older generation, and the energy and enthusiasm of the younger generation.

Through the the Orange Mound Community Garden, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center was able to demonstrate the transformative power that urban and community gardening can have for neighborhoods. They began looking for ways to replicate the successes of the Orange Mound Community Garden on a greater scale.

GrowMemphis was founded as a project of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in 2007 with community gardening projects in Hollywood-Springdale and South Memphis joining the one in Orange Mound. These organic community gardens would provide a source of healthy food in neighborhoods, turning vacant lots into thriving centers of community. In 2012 The Food Advisory Council for Memphis and Shelby County was formalized and continues to operate under the leadership of GrowMemphis.

Since then, GrowMemphis has expanded by leaps and bounds to include new partner garden projects throughout Memphis, and currently has 52 member garden projects. While expanding the number of community gardens, GrowMemphis was also expanding in scope. In early 2010, GrowMemphis began convening a working group for the formation of a food policy council for Memphis and Shelby County. In January 2012, due to increased demand for community gardens as well as a need to expand food policy initiatives, GrowMemphis became an independent non-profit.

In June 2016, GrowMemphis officially dissolved as a nonprofit to become a program of the larger food systems nonprofit, Memphis Tilth. All current GrowMemphis staff, gardens, and program initiatives remain and continue to grow under Memphis Tilth.

Memphis Tilth GrowMemphis Seed Library

  • Preserve vegetable, herb, and flower plant seeds best suited for the Mid-South

  • Allow community members to check out seeds for free, then turn in saved seeds at the end of the season

  • Once you check out seeds you are a member

  • Provide resources on savings seeds, starting plants from seeds, and planting calendars