Posts Tagged ‘Urban Agriculture’

We’re Excited About 2015 And Want You to Join Us to Make it Great!

FASHA_FinalLogoIt’s been a while since we’ve written about our journey. 2014 Was a great year. We launched our program, unsure what was to come, and were pleasantly surprised. Our program participants embraced us, embraced the program, and we received out pouring support from surrounding neighbors and the community. In a word, we were overwhelmed. But in a good way.

8 Nations strong (Zimbabwe, Philippines, USA, Rwanda, Congo, Burundi,  Liberia, Mexico) our urban farm program fed families of varying sizes throughout the summer and the fall of 2014. Our harvests were fruitful. We had kids, and elders working side by side. Every time we worked in the garden, passers-by waved, honked, and gave us thumbs up. Whereas we received push back and resistance from the neighborhood when we first started, this new embrace gave life to our program. Such support helped us forget all the obstacles we faced with getting water on the property, abiding by strict regulations, and a cautious and suspicious community that was unsure about how an urban farm would fit into the neighborhood.

By our estimate, 2014 was a strong and successful year, and we’re wildly looking forward to what 2015 will bring.

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We’ve been busy. Our team has grown, and you’ll get a chance to learn about our addition in the near future. It’s thrilling, and informative, and most importantly, so incredibly helpful to have our new team addition. We’ve also gotten a ton of volunteers. volsinrain

These are people who either heard about or saw something about our program, and decided to come out, and assist our participants. They are one of the reasons we’ve been able to grow. From digging, tilling, and turning the soil, to cutting grass, spreading wood chips, and creating paths, our volunteers have done it all, rain or shine!

Also, we’ve been speaking around town. As more and more people learn about our initiate, they want to know more. They want to hear about it, learn how they can be more involved, and share our stories, with their networks. We have spoken in meetings for community organizations, at schools, at other farm/garden programs, as well as schools. And we’re still at it.

Most importantly, we’ve had a spring season, for the first time since we started. Despite the erratic, harsh, and inclement weather in February and early March, we still planted a variety of crops and are now harvesting.

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We are so excited for what 2015 will bring. We will have our annual summer season groundbreaking celebration on Saturday May 30, 2015. If you’re in town, and want to experience a spectacular type of community initiative stop by! Also, if you’re just looking for an opportunity for outdoor work/fun and volunteering come and join us.

We will be at Paragon Urban Farm from 8AM – 12 PM.

We hope you’ll join us on this day, and the rest of the summer to the end of the year to make it great! We have much more planned, and we hope you’ll continue on this journey with us, because we plan to have a lot of fun doing it!

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Official Ground Breaking Scheduled!

FASHA_FinalLogoWe’re so excited about everything that’s been going on with the urban farm. We’re slowly seeing it come to life. We’ve been meeting with community groups, ESL classes, and refugee elders. There is palpable excitement about the project. It’s one of the first of its kind in our city. We’re paving the way and making waves, and we’re happy to have community support.

With that said, we’re pleased to announce that our groundbreaking date is OFFICIALLY SET.

Save the date: May 31st, 2014. We will be working on the site from 8am – 12 noon.

We’re inviting the greater community to join us. Our community of farmers will receive their plots, seeds, and if there are any tools donated, they will receive them too!

We’ve humbly and patiently worked on this project for a while. We’re happy to see it come to fruition. And we hope you will join us!

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Colleen’s Story, and How She Joined Us on Our Journey

One day, we went out flyering (not a word, we know), as we’re prone to do, to keep the community informed on our happenings. We left flyers all over the place including a local YMCA. The flyer asked if anyone out there was interested in joining our urban farm, growing their own vegetables, and being part of an urban agriculture movement in the community. If they were, the flyer said, they were invited to our meeting to learn more.

Among the people who responded to our call was Colleen (she encountered the flyer at the local YMCA). She came to our meeting where we discussed the project’s plans, and got feedback on needs and direction. Colleen was hooked from the very beginning, giving feedback, and asking for ways to become involved in every part of the process. She’s not only helped us in our fundraising endeavors, management and organization of various aspects of the project, but she’s volunteered her services as a designer to help put a plan together for our vision. She didn’t design that first flyer that reeled her in, but she’s designed our flyers and pamphlets ever since!

Over the course of our journey, we’ve gotten to know her personal story. She is a local business owner, at Echo Design, she is a mother, she is married to a local musician (very Nashville), and she loves the idea of a farm in the community!  We are excited to share with you the story of her family, and her interest in our urban farm project. We asked her some questions, and below are her answers.

Can you give us your family background?

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo. I have one brother name Brian who is 2 years older than I. My parents also were born and raised in St. Louis, MO. So, needless to say, we’re your typical mid-western family. If you grow up in MO, you don’t leave MO. The decision for me to go away to college was not totally accepted at first. However, eventually my family was completely on board and extremely supportive as they knew I always have been a little “out of the box”.

I went to Anderson University in Anderson IN. I met my husband there and we got married a month after graduation in 2004. We moved to Nashville because my husband is a musician and I could go anywhere to do graphic design. I’ve now worked in graphic design for about a decade but became a full time stay at home mom two years ago when my son was born: Oliver William Boyle. I continue to work part time from home freelancing as a graphic designer.

Colleen’s Family: Chris, Oliver, and Collen.

How do you spend your free time?

I love to thrift shop, antique, garage sale, and peruse flea markets. I don’t just love it, I’m actually totally obsessed with it. Although, since I’m not a hoarder, I finally had to come up with a reason to keep going in to these places. Idea, I’ll sell vintage baby clothes! 6 months ago I started selling on etsy.com. My store is called Schatzi Vintage after my grandma and it gives me something to “collect” now. After doing this for 6 months, turns out I’m not to keen on the business side of things. I’d rather be a buyer instead of doing the tedious tasks of photographing, measuring, shipping, etc. Basically, this will probably always remain a hobby since I’m lazy at posting. I did have a booth at the flea market last month to clear out some of my inventory. It was fun, but I’d need to invest in a lot more inventory if I did it again. Which would be fine with me because it would mean I would have more reasons to shop!

I’ve also gotten obsessed with the YMCA. It’s my home away from home now. It’s my “me time” as most women say. I get a break from being mom, and it’s a way to work off all the extra food that I eat because I don’t want to waste what my son won’t finish! I guess you could say, I’m your typical girl. Shopping and working out. Sounds pretty lame now that I write it. Ha! Hopefully we get the garden going soon so I can acquire a more dignified hobby!

Can you talk to us about why our urban farm initiative is appealing to you?

Let me start by saying why we moved to the neighborhood. That will help answer, why the urban farm initiative is appealing. Originally when we moved to the Paragon Mills neighborhood we were interested in living in a multi cultural neighborhood. We wanted to gain community with people who weren’t just like us: young, white, etc) But, I guess naturally, the goal of community has proven to be a bit more difficult than expected. We were robbed twice in the first three years we have lived here. We have also had several other instances that made us feel violated and vulnerable. This, unfortunately, has made us put our guard up and become quite bitter; the opposite of why we felt led to this neighborhood. Instead of building bridges we’ve just kept to ourselves and tried to plan a time for when we could move. When I heard about the urban farm initiative, I was excited to hear that there were others in this neighborhood that wanted to make a positive difference. It is a great community builder and a positive step for a struggling neighborhood. When I learned more about the project, it was a faith builder for me as I felt God bringing redemption in his purpose for bringing us to this neighborhood by giving us a way to break down the walls we’ve built.

What are some of the things you hope to gain out of the experience?

Of course the given: gardening experience, community involvement, and a way to get to know those that live close. I also think it will be a fun way to teach our son about agriculture and being a part of a group that has a positive goal.

What are some changes you hope to see in the neighborhood as a result of the gardening initiative?

 Lots of things! Community involvement, a focus on the importance of fresh, natural foods in our diet, an outlet for people who don’t have community (refugees, retired folks, stay at home moms, the homeless, etc) to come and be a part of something fun. I think this kind of goal can build local pride, which is what we need! It would also just be great for the Paragon Mills area to have something new and alive, active and growing. Something that’s beautiful and created by us!

What would you like to communicate to readers of this blog who would like to get involved in the initiative?

Come teach us or learn with us! We need lots of people to make this happen. If you have any desire at all to be a part, please join forces with us to get it up and running!

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If you don’t want to be a part of the urban farm, would you at least consider giving financially to help us support it? Much thanks in advance!