Local nonprofits Hope for the Inner City and Glass House Collective are partnering to spread urban agriculture, increase access to healthy food and educate community members on the topics.
Hope for the Inner City’s Grow Hope program started as a garden project during a summer camp, but it’s morphed into something bigger. Leaders are ramping up a small farm that will eventually be part of a workforce development program, which should begin hiring employees in February, Grow Hope Urban Farm director Joel Tippens said. The goal is to supply a farmers market and provide easy access to residents who can’t easily get to the grocery store.
Glass House Collective hosts community meetings once a month, and leaders repeatedly hear that a top priority is to get healthy, affordable food in the area, Teal Thibaud, Glass House director, said. “They are tired of catching three buses to get fresh food,” she said. Glass House recently got a $3,000 grant from Tennessee Arts Commission to build a mobile farm stand, which is nearly complete, thanks to help from local architects Jared Hueter and Aaron Cole, who designed the unit.
The Grow Hope Urban Farm will supply the mobile market, and leaders said the unit is an initial move toward the bigger goal.
“It’s sort of like ‘one step at a time,’” Tippens said. “The Grow Hope farm stand is the result of this grant funding that Glass House had and the creative vision that Jared and those folks had. What the long-term goal is going to be is creating more backyard gardens and community gardens to develop more interest in sourcing fresh food.”
The mobile stand can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a farm stand or an art sale. It’s equipped with four tables so people can sit down, eat, talk or play chess.
“It needed to be mobile; that was a big challenge,” Hueter said. “The other thing is being flexible … We tried to design it to where they can have it for different kinds of uses.”
The mobile unit will be ready for the upcoming Glass Street Live event Oct. 29th.
Glass House Collective sees [itself] as a spark. We won’t be the entity that recruits a big-box grocery chain to Glass Street, but we can commission artist[s] and partner with a local farm to bring access to food to the neighborhood. With that, we hope that residents become more organized and advocate for a grocery in their own community. It’s more than just starting the conversation, it’s taking action—big or small—that transforms communities.
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