Program leader Taylor Malone is spearheading the creation of edible forests throughout the Johnson City area. After receiving a grant from Appalachian Sustainable Development to purchase trees and soil amendments, Taylor attended a community edible park conference and met Asheville-based orchardist and pomological public park pioneer Bill Whipple. Taylor purchased several fruit-producing trees (mostly species native to our region), and partnered with Whipple to learn more about creating successful edible parks. After finding the perfect location at the First United Methodist Food Pantry in the Tree Streets neighborhood, Build It Up! hosted a community planting with great reception. In the future we'll be doing many more tree, shrub, perennial, and annual plantings, building a rainwater harvesting system, making paths, installing art, and much more. Plans for Johnson City edible park number 2 are already underway, with a location identified, and the Johnson City Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project as committed collaborators. Read more about our first planting here.
During the summer of 2013, co-founder Heidi Davis drove a bus that delivered meals to low-income children in Unicoi and Johnson City---a supplement to the school lunch these children would be receiving other times throughout the year. One of the communities Heidi worked with, Whispering Meadows, became interested in learning more about growing and preserving their own food. Currently we are in the process of raising money and resources to help this community meet their goals and build a community garden, beginning in the spring of 2014. Educational workshops on growing food, maintaining a garden, and canning/preserving food will accompany the community garden.
We have partnered with Shakti in the Mountains to host a series of workshops that span throughout the year. The majority of these workshops are venues for learning about growing, preserving, and preparing food. Some workshops focus on other aspects of gardening or crafting. Past workshops include creating fermentation pickles, growing mushrooms, bee-keeping, DIY lotions and scrubs, and building composting worm bins. Participants leave every workshop with an item they have created.
In the spring of 2013, we began working with the local Carver Peace Garden. Located just outside of downtown at a local community center, the Carver Peace Garden is in its 6th year. Build It Up East TN partnered with master gardener and founder of the Carver Peace Garden, Sam Jones, to acquire one plot of community garden space. We have used this space to grow food on, as well as an educational tool to share growing practices with others.
We are currently working with the Johnson City Public Library to develop a local seed library. The goal of this library will be to preserve regional heirloom seeds. Seeds will be available for community members to check out. After check out, community members can grow the seeds, preserve and enjoy cultural and heritage foods, and return seeds after their harvest back to the seed library.