Urban Agriculture Fellowship Work Day!

Guest post by Daniel Pannock, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Fellow and junior at University School of Nashville

Daniel Pannock is one of 10 students in the inaugural class of Urban Agriculture Fellows here at Hands On Nashville. The HON Urban Agriculture Fellowship Program is a service and learning opportunity for high school students interested in gaining project planning, implementation, and evaluation skills. Upon the conclusion of their training, Fellows lead self-designed volunteer projects at nonprofit organizations across Nashville. Daniel and Michael Ding, a junior at MLK, completed their Fellowship project at Trevecca’s Perk Garden.

Gardening can be fun and rewarding for any individual, but many people have begun to recognize its potential benefits in cities. One such example is the development of Urban Agriculture systems, in which “farmers” turn old parking lots and other abandoned areas within a city into arable land by laying compostable materials over it. This practice is slowly growing in popularity, creating a “food revolution” that can help communities without regular access to healthy foods acquire nutrient-rich produce for very little cost. One of these urban farms is the Perk Garden, run by Jason Adkins of Trevecca Nazerene University. This specific garden is a part of Trevecca’s J.V. Morsch Justice Center’s mission to “tackle today’s tough issues such as human trafficking, unclean water, poverty and hunger”, and has produced over 750 pounds of food in its first year.

Volunteers paint signs for the Perk Garden.

We were assigned to help Perk Garden grow and expand by our program director, Alison Duncan. After talking to Jason, we decided to help him build a rain barrel, paint signs, and create a garden bed. The project day itself was very nerve racking for Michael and me. It was definitely a new experience, having to organize a workday and designate people to certain tasks. However, with many signs refurbished and a new garden bed and rain barrel added to the Perk Garden, it was a big success.

From the perspective of being high school students in this Urban Agriculture Fellowship Program, we are happy that this project went well, and we would like to thank Alison and Jason for an unforgettable experience. We had great fun learning about how to approach gardening holistically–whether that be by planting mushrooms under a chicken coop to digest the chicken waste and keep local water sources clean, or by creating a system to cleanse  a fish tank’s water by running it under plants.

Youth volunteers helping to prepare vegetable beds.

Despite the difficulties we encountered in communication, gathering supplies, and other things, we feel that our leadership skills and decision-making abilities grew quite a bit as a result of the program. We want to thank everyone who helped us with this project and our success with it. 

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