Several Team Greeners got their hands dirty on Saturday, May 3, planting melon, eggplant, okra and sweet potatoes at Hands On Nashville’s (HON) urban farm. HON’s 5-acre farm sits on the Mill Creek floodway, repurposing the land to provide fresh produce to low-income communities, as well as an opportunity for youth to learn how to harvest, prepare and taste healthy foods.
HON’s Urban Farm offers more than 100 volunteer opportunities each year, and Team Green loved being able to help out this spring!
Adam Curtis, HON’s Urban Agriculture Coordinator, enlightened our group on HON’s goal to rebuild the local ecosystem and increase biodiversity. Space is set aside for natural vegetation to work toward recreating Nashville’s native landscape. The urban farm also houses rain gardens to slow flooding and filter out waterborne pollutants. Adam explained that the farm’s “no-mow zone” is home to the endangered species of crayfish, only found in Nashville’s Mill Creek. The urban farm does not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and it integrates pest management to maintain a sustainable growing process.
Our group of urban farmers began our morning by turning over the rocky ground to expose the fresh soil. We dug new garden beds, planted starts and mulched the land. The mulching process required jumping in barrels of leaves and filling wheel barrels to pour along the paths. The teamwork was outstanding, and we couldn’t have done it without the energy of the younger ones!
Team Green Adventures and Hands On Nashville believe in sustainable gardening and preserving natural habitat. Here are just a few interesting facts related to biodiversity and gardening to help you understand why it is so important to protect and promote our native landscape:
- Biodiversity has declined by more than 25% in the past 35 years (CIFOR)
- ½ the calories we eat come from just 3 of the world’s 30,000 edible plants (rice, wheat and corn) (CIFOR)
- $70 worth of plantings yields $530-worth of produce (Elements)
- In 2012, HON’s first year with urban farming, 1,200+ pounds of food were harvested, 2,100+ volunteers were engaged, and 7,100+ volunteer hours were invested (HON)
Interested in more events focused on living green and eating healthy? Join us Friday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. to kick off a weekend of fun, active, healthy and nutritious workshops at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. To learn more about this event take a look at our event page!
– Kate (Team Green 2014 Summer Intern)