Today, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Shelby Farms, Farm to Fork garden. The garden grows produce, teaches gardening classes, raises chickens, keeps their own bees, and offers a fellows program. They have about 15 garden plots for growing produce, and a ginormous composting area.
Their fellows program usually involves 2 students from the Memphis Area. The student-fellows attend the garden, as well as promoting and running the business plan of the operation. The students are in high school and typically from inner city schools from Shelby County. This gives them the opportunity to learn how to grow their own produce, and great leadership skills.
The fellows’ director explained to me the whole operation of how things would be grown throughout the year. This was my first time seeing a produce garden, and given the chance to ask questions about how it’s kept. She told me that they plant seeds twice a year, and they are about to in April. Even though the garden was looking a bit lifeless and empty because of the winter weather, I could envision what it would look like in a few months time.
The produce grown in the garden is sorted in a few ways. Most of the harvest is sold in a food cart that drives around Shelby Farms. The rest of it is given to volunteers as well as the students in the fellows program. The best part of buying from the garden is that everything is organic, and is supporting a local farming operation.
I was extremely excited to volunteer here mainly because I plan to grow my own produce when I own a home one-day. This whole operation definitely has people in the center of its vision. While they are growing great organic produce, more importantly they are teaching the importance of responsibility in its fellows program. I can’t wait to drive by in the spring and see all the work they have done.