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VOL. 130 | NO. 129 | Monday, July 6, 2015

Shelby Farms Greenline Gardens Gets Makeover

By Andy Meek

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The Greenline Gardens at Shelby Farms Park – the centerpiece of a handful of park programs including the Farm-to-Fork Fellowship and the Greenline Garden Club Workshop series – has been given a long-overdue makeover.

Shelby Farms development and communications coordinator Betsy Peterson, left, spots baby watermelons with Farm-To-Fork Fellow Alice Gleadhill and Greenline Gardens intern Katie Cummings, right. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The garden area at the park, comprised of a series of raised beds, was launched in 2011 and until recently needed a healthy bit of repair work to improve accessibility and usability for the program participants who use the gardens. That changed, though, when a state agency stepped in to help.

The Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association awarded the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy in recent weeks a $2,000 grant to restore the beds in the Greenline Gardens. The conservancy got the grant at the end of May and quickly got busy putting the money to work.

The grant funds were used to redesign the garden layout and build 26 new raised beds.

"It was a big undertaking, but we had help from a lot of volunteers like folks from Smith & Nephew who came out for a day," said Shelby Farms Park Conservancy development and communications coordinator Betsy Peterson.

“It entailed tearing up the old beds and leveling the ground. We repurposed all the wood from the old beds and got cinderblocks from Lowe’s and some gravel to put between them.

“This project was started because the original Greenline Gardens beds we built were made of wood and kind of rotting. Basically, they were too wide for us to plant without walking in them. So we sought the grant to redo them.”

As part of “redoing them,” the wood used in the existing garden is being repurposed in projects throughout Shelby Farms. The beds also have been filled with compost the conservancy has been cultivating on site for several years.

“It was a big undertaking, but we had help from a lot of volunteers like folks from Smith & Nephew who came out for a day.”

–Betsy Peterson
Shelby Farms Park Conservancy

The organization says the project will help expand the garden’s overall productivity and support its status as an accessible space the community can enjoy. And it will provide a place where more plants can grow.

One program that’s connected to the gardens is the conservancy’s Farm-to-Fork Fellowship. That program sees the hire of two high school students each year from lower-income schools who get a chance to learn about organic gardening, help tend to the gardens and teach school groups about gardening.

Those students also donate food grown in the Greenline Gardens to Shelby County Schools and recently started a mobile farmers market. As a result of the latter, they’re also now selling produce around the trails at Shelby Farms.

Peterson said two "farm fellows" participate in the program for a year - essentially, they’re full time in the summer and part time during the school year.

The program and the gardens are among the ways the nonprofit park conservancy works to help keep the park and greenline “clean, green and safe,” according to the organization. To do that, it raises more than $2 million each year, money used to help the conservancy manage and operate the 4,500-acre park and 6.5 miles of Shelby Farms Greenline.

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