Tag Archives: Urban Agriculture Program

Crop City: Local Chefs Visit the Farm!

With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!

Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.

Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you.  Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.
Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Summer Squash Salad

2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 lime
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Cayenne pepper

–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.

Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.
Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.

Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!

Notes from the Farm: Summertime Activity in Full Swing

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

Crop City participants show off some of the recently-harvested garlic

Welcome to summer!

We hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in the company of good friends, loving family, and (of course) delicious food!

Out at the Farm, these long summer days and warm summer nights are translating into a big growth spurt for many of our crops. Plenty of garlic has already been pulled, the tomatoes and peppers will provide a steady harvest for the next month and a half, our sunflowers are beaming, and the bush beans are taking off like wildfire.

There have also been some pretty significant changes made on the grounds of the Urban Farm over the course of the past month or so as well. Most notably, we have completed installation of the Butterfly Garden between our vegetable fields. This beautiful space will provide a great habitat for all of the beneficial insects that help make our vegetables healthy and happy. We encourage visitors to come enjoy the view of the new garden from one of the nearby swing sets!

Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.
Apprentices lead Crop City participants through a brainstorming game.

As we mentioned in our last update, the summer youth development program Crop City is in full swing and will continue to take place every weekday until July 19. Over 200 youth come out to the Farm every week to participate in Crop City and learn about sustainable growing and the importance of healthy eating.

Overseeing all of this activity and leading the programming for Crop City is our talented team of 15 Urban Farm Apprentices. Our Apprentices have been doing an amazing job running the program and engaging Crop City campers while also gaining valuable leadership skills, and the program certainly would not be the success that it is without them!

Click here to learn more about each of these outstanding high school students who are making a real difference this summer.

Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.
Sifting compost is just one of many activities planned for the upcoming Urban Farm Summer Camp.

Finally, we will be offering an Urban Farm Summer Camp program from July 22 to July 26 for 9- to 13-year old boys and girls. This curriculum for this camp will be very similar to that of Crop City, and it will also be led by our Apprentices. Participants will be immersed in an experienced-based learning environment full of delicious vegetables, colorful flowers, and a variety of fun and educational games. We’d love to have you join us for this fun and educational experience so click here to learn more and sign up!

And of course, if you have any other questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!


josh2Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Meet our Awesome Urban Farm Apprentices!

We are so excited to introduce our truly amazing 2013 Urban Farm Apprentices, who have been training and working diligently to make the future of our communities brighter, one step at a time. All 15 Apprentices have gone through a rigorous application and interview process and weeks of training to become the rock stars they are today. 

This summer, HON Urban Farm Apprentices will lead groups of up to 60 of their peers through a curriculum built around agriculture, the food system, and healthy eating at our Youth Summer Camp and Crop City programs, both held at the fabulous Hands On Nashville Urban Farm.

Without any further ado, read on to learn more about each of these awesome young people!

2013 Urban Farm Apprentices (in alphabetic order):

GA2013-AminaAmina is a rising sophomore at McGavock High School. She loves food and enjoys being around others. She also loves being in the outdoors and is good at helping people.
GA2013-CarsonCarson is a rising junior at University School of Nashville. She is a scholastic-winning author and budding environmentalist.
GA2013-ChloeChloe is a rising senior at MLK. She loves listening to music and also enjoys ballet and meeting new people.
GA2013-DanielDaniel is a rising senior at MLK. He enjoys backpacking and whitewater rafting. He is interested in pursuing a degree in agriculture business.
GA2013-EmilyEmily attends Hume-Fogg High School, where she is a member of the GSA and the Fighting Disease Club. She served as co-captain of her school’s swim team and she enjoys making art.
GA2013-EmmaEmma is a rising junior at MLK. She is an avid gardener, aspiring writer, and LGBT rights activist.
GA2013-FarhiyaFarhiya is a rising sophomore at Hillwood High School. She enjoys reading books and getting to know new people.
GA2013-HaydenHayden is a rising senior atHume-Fogg. He loves running and juggling and is excited to work at the Urban Farm this summer. Hayden enjoys working outside and hanging out with other kids.
GA2013-JazminJazmin just graduated from Glencliff High School. She wants to do nonprofit and leadership work, and loves to volunteer.

GA2013-KatherineKatherine is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic and is an event organizer for her Environmental Action Club. She is passionate about music, cooking, books, nature, and helping others. Katherine aspires to be a sustainable systems designer on a city-scale.

GA2013-LydiaLydea is a sophomore at Nashville School of the Arts, where she enjoys playing the cello and going to English class. Her favorite hobbies include reading books and ‘fangirling’ over Benedict Cumberbatch (go Sherlock!).

GA2013- MariaMaria attends Glencliff High School and is a rising senior. She is passionate about helping others and aspires to become a pediatrician. She also loves soccer and watermelon!

GA2013-NancyNancy is a rising sophomore at MLK. She enjoys playing soccer and volleyball in the summer with her church. She also plays ping-pong and has played the piano and clarinet. Nancy enjoys volunteering and reading books in her free time.

GA2013-RachelRachel is a rising senior at Nashville School of the Arts. She enjoys painting and is president of the National Art Honors Society. She loves to work out and stay healthy while maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging others.
GA2013-TerrellTerrell is a rising senior at Glencliff and describes himself as an Afrocentrist. He is plenty of things, one of which is an athlete. He runs or bikes to the Urban Farm every day.

Introducing the 2013 Urban Agriculture Fellows

By Alison Duncan, HON Urban Agriculture Program VISTA

The whole group poses for the camera. From left to right:
The whole group poses for the camera. From left to right: Sara Shaghaghi, Lydea Adkins, Daniel Pannock, Chloe Vaccaro, Michael Ding, Janie Liu, Audaris Blades, Rachel West, Nick Dietrich, Natalie Beck, Josh Corlew, and me (Alison Duncan).

It may still be cold outside, but the Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program is already heating up with the launch of our newest program: the Urban Agriculture Fellowship! This unique service-learning opportunity places ten high school students at nonprofit gardens across Nashville.

After a highly competitive application process last fall, ten outstanding young people were selected to serve as the inaugural class of Urban Agriculture Fellows. These inspiring students have already proven themselves to be real rock stars, having completed an intense two-day training session over the winter break. Throughout the spring, they will attend monthly workshops here at HON that will help them acquire the project development, volunteer management, public speaking, and organizational skills needed to become effective community leaders. Without further ado, I am very excited to introduce you to the Fellows:

The fellows get to know each other on the first day of training.
The fellows get to know each other on the first day of training.

Audaris Blades – A senior at Glencliff High School, Audaris is actively involved in a number of service clubs at his school. He is also an athlete, playing on both the tennis and baseball teams at Glencliff. His fellowship project will be at the HON Urban Farm.

Chloe Vaccaro – Chloe is a junior at MLK Magnet High School. She is captain of her school softball team and participated in the Urban Farm Apprenticeship program this past summer. Chloe will be at Good Food for Good People for her fellowship project.

Daniel Pannock – Daniel is a junior at University School of Nashville. He has recently cultivated an interest in gardening through his work at the Outdoor Academy and as a member of USN’s Environmental Club. Daniel will be working at the Perk Garden.

Janie Liu – A junior at MLK Magnet High School, Janie is passionate about the environmental impacts of our food system. She swims on the MLK swim team and has a small garden at home. She will be working at the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Lydea Adkins – Lydea is a freshman at Nashville School of the Arts. She is very involved in the Harvest Hands WOW soap program and is an avid reader. Additionally, she is the oldest of seven siblings, which keeps her pretty busy. Lydea will be working at Good Food for Good People.

Michael Ding – A junior at MLK Magnet High School, Michael is a committed environmentalist. He is a core member of his school’s Green Club and is a coalition ambassador for Tennyen, a youth-led environmental group. Michael will be working at the Perk Garden.

Natalie Beck – Natalie is a junior at Brentwood High School, where she is a Student Council member. She is an artist, and often integrates her talents into whatever projects she is working on. Natalie’s fellowship placement is at the BELL Garden.

Nick Dietrich – Nick is a senior at MLK Magnet High School. He enjoys nature and being outdoors, and is interested in learning more about agriculture as a possible career path. Nick will be working at the HON Urban Farm.

Rachel West –A junior at Brentwood High School, Rachel plays a variety of sports, including lacrosse and cross country. She is interested in starting her own nonprofit, and has worked in gardens in the past. Rachel’s fellowship placement is the Martha O’Bryan Center.

Sara Shaghaghi – Sara is a junior at MLK Magnet High School, where she is a key member of her school’s swim team. She is currently pursuing her Gold Award in the Girl Scouts. Sara will be working at The BELL Garden for her fellowship project.

Stay tuned for updates on the good work these high school students will be doing this spring, including how you can get involved and support their service project.


Alison is a born and bred Tar Heel, having lived in North Carolina for most of her life. She serves as HON’s Urban Agriculture Program VISTA and oversees youth programming at the Urban Farm.  Alison can tie her shoes in 2 seconds flat.


Welcome to the HON team, Alison and Adrianna!

Both Alison (left) and Adrianna (right) smile after their first month at Hands On Nashville. We're thrilled to have them here!
Both Alison (left) and Adrianna (right) smile after their first month at Hands On Nashville. We’re thrilled to have them here!

Holiday gifts arrived early at Hands On Nashville with two new faces joining our special Hands On Nashville team in November. Both Alison Duncan and Adrianna Silver have entered as AmeriCorps VISTAS, a program designed to specifically fight poverty that is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Tennessee Literacy Coalition. In this program, Alison and Adrianna are provided with very small stipends for one year of learning through service. We are honored to have them on our team.

Alison is a born and bred Tar Heel, having lived in North Carolina for most of her life. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she spent a year working on organic farms across the country, developing her passion for farming and

Allison teaches kids about garlic at the BELL gardens.
Allison teaches kids about garlic at the BELL gardens volunteer project. She’ll be very active in doing similar teaching at the HON Urban Farm this spring and summer.

youth education. She moved to Nashville in January 2012, soon after completing a program in sustainable agriculture. Alison is super pumped to be a part of HON’s Urban Agriculture Program and is looking forward to working with some of Nashville’s inspiring young people.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Alison will work to build the capacity of the Urban Agriculture Program primarily through youth programming at the Urban Farm. She oversees the curriculum development, planning, and implementation of the new Urban Agriculture Internship Program, the Summer Apprenticeship Program, and the Summer Youth Service Camp. If you want to know more about the Urban Agriculture Program and/or get involved, please visit HON.org/urban_agriculture.

This shot show's Adrianna's first day on the job as she helps lead volunteers to apply energy-efficient upgrades  in an East Nashville home.
Adrianna leads volunteers to apply energy-efficient upgrades in an East Nashville home.

Adrianna, also passionate about sustainable programming, joins us as the Home Energy Savings Program‘s new VISTA. Adrianna graduated from Western Kentucky University (WKU) with a BA in Philosophy and English in 2011. While attending WKU she worked for the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR), where she was involved with both sustainability and community development efforts across her community and campus. Finally working as an assistant to WKU’s Sustainability Coordinator, she was able to put her degree to good work while continuing to learn about the latest environmental efforts. After graduating, Adrianna landed in Nashville where she has worked for several local businesses, most notably as the manager of the Green Wagon of East Nashville. She hopes to continue her relationship with the Nashville community through her work with HON. If you are a homeowner who has questions about the Home Energy Savings Program, please feel free to contact Adrianna at (615) 298.1108, Ext. 422 or email her at adrianna@hon.org.

Notes from the Farm: A Recipe for Positive Youth Development

By Adams Carroll, AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Urban Agriculture Program –

Chef Kristin Beringson
Chef Kristin Beringson shows Summer Camp Kids how to make fresh salsa.

Last week we were fortunate to have two esteemed visitors to Youth Service Camp at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm. Our friends at Nashville Originals organized cooking demonstrations for our campers led by Chef Kristin Beringson of the Holland House Bar and Refuge and Chef Tony Galzin of Flyte World Dining and Wine. Both chefs came with simple, tasty recipes highlighting the astounding seasonal flavors of the produce the campers helped to grow this summer. I hope a few of our campers are inspired to try these recipes at home! Several of the campers told me they tried squash for the first time in these dishes… and they liked it!

Our campers were impressed by our guest chefs’ knife skills and infectious love for their craft. I was too, but something else really moved me. I was so inspired by the volunteer spirit that our guests exhibited. It was clear to me that they both are driven to make our community a more vibrant place to live through their service. In sharing their skills and experience in a simple cooking demonstration, these chefs did much more than toss together a tasty garden salad. They also modeled positive behavior and served as role models for our campers. I won’t be surprised if, 10 years from now, Nashville’s hottest new chef shares her story of being inspired to choose her profession because of Chef Beringson and Galzin’s

Chef Galzin
Chef Galzin shows kids how to blanch vegetables and create an easy summer salad.

service last week.

After his demonstration, I remarked to Chef Galzin that he did a really good job of engaging his youth audience during his demonstration (more photos here). He told me that as the oldest of four brothers, he learned early on how to maintain young peoples’ attention levels. However, another experience uniquely prepared him to be a good role model for young people at the Urban Farm.

Before moving to Nashville, Chef Galzin volunteered with the Spark Program in Chicago, which connects hundreds of students with apprenticeships in their dream field. It was clear to me that Chef Galzin’s experience working as a mentor with Spark taught him how to bring out the best in our youth by nurturing their curiosity and giving them opportunities to use their ingenuity, creativity, and skills to overcome challenges. I am of the opinion that our society chronically underestimates the abilities of youth. Programs like Spark give kids an opportunity to prove to themselves and the world that they are able to accomplish great things.

Inspired by the chefs, Summer Camp kids make their own salad variations and share ideas with each other.

All of this got me thinking about the principles of positive youth development – principles I had in mind when developing the curriculum for our Youth Service Camp and Apprenticeship program (Farmer Josh introduced the Apprentices back in June). I wanted to make sure that we weren’t just creating a program to keep kids busy between school semesters, but rather one that is an opportunity for young people to live purposefully by contributing to our community in meaningful ways and building valuable life skills.

If you have ever despaired for the future of this world, then I challenge you to take note of the amazing things our youth apprentices and campers have been able to accomplish when asked to take an active role in creating their experiences in an environment that is supportive and safe. Together, these young people have turned five acres of floodway into a productive, beautiful Urban Farm that grows healthy produce for members of our community who need it most. Trust me, our future is in good hands!

A native Nashvillian, Adams Carroll serves as AmeriCorps VISTA Member for HON’s Urban Agriculture Program. He oversees the development of the Urban Farm Apprenticeship and Summer Youth Service Camp program. A bicycling enthusiast and dedicated bike commuter, Adams is a volunteer with Walk/Bike Nashville, the Oasis Center, and Free Bike Shop. His longest bike ride? 3,500 miles across 14 states.