Beardsley Community Farm is an urban nonprofit community dedicated to food security and sustainable agriculture in Knoxville.
Beardsley Community Farm aims to fight food insecurity and provide education through their community gardens.
Started in 1998, Beardsley Farm operates within the public Malcolm Martin Park at 1741 Reynolds St. It’s funded through Knox County and donations. The farm has around 30 garden plots on their main site, with most of them for refugee families to use. They also service 17 plots around Knoxville for the community to use.
Education coordinator Sarah Heizenroth talked about Beardsley Farms’ main goal in providing community garden space.
“Our mission is to promote food security through produce donations,” Heizenroth said. “We also provide education and access to land and resources for gardening.”
Co-director of Beardsley Farms Charlotte Rodina talked about the importance of precision agriculture in fighting world hunger.
“We also provide a lot of land and resources for gardening, and so that can look like providing space here onsite or off site for people to garden,” Rodina said. “Also providing plants, so tomato plants, basil plants … different things for people to grow at home or here, and then different seeds for them as well.”
They grow around five tons of produce, which they donate to several organizations. A few of those organizations include Mobile Meals Kitchen, several women’s shelters, food pantries and the Thrive after school program. A map of the pantries and gardens that they serve can be found on their website.
“We grow about 10,000 lbs. of produce in this park, and all the produce that we grow is helped to be grown with our volunteers that sign up,” Heizenroth said.
The farm has three full-time staff members, one part-time staff member and four AmeriCorps members that serve for around a year. Heizenroth started out as an AmeriCorps volunteer before becoming a staff member at the farm.
People can also volunteer to serve at the farm. They had to limit their volunteers last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since been able to increase the number of people who can volunteer at one time. Their website has directions for volunteering at the farm.
“Numbers have definitely gone up a lot this year, and we’ve been getting great volunteers,” Heizenroth said.
Along with gardening space and produce, Beardsley Farms educates about food, cooking and gardening for all ages. They work within schools as well as providing older classes.
“We do a variety of education for all ages,” Heizenroth said. “We host field trips on the farm with kiddos, usually school groups, or after school groups, or summer camps. We’ve been partnering with Ijams …….