Sowing Seeds of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is knocking at the door, but before we let it in and sit down to dinner, we at Big Green Memphis would like to take a moment to share some of the things we are thankful for this season – to sow our own seeds of gratitude, if you will. 

Two weeks ago (when the weather was still unseasonably cold) we invited our Learning Garden teachers, parents, and administrators to join us at Wiseacre Brewing Company for a Big Green Thanksgiving event. Sheltered under a semi-heated tent and twinkling string lights, we played a rousing game of garden trivia, ate delicious food provided by Hog Wild Catering, and honored some outstanding teachers, parents, principals, and community partners.

Here’s a recap of our 2019 Learning Garden Champions:

Ben Townsend, Shelby County School’s Farm Manager, has worked with the Big Green Memphis team extensively to connect our work in the garden with SCS Food and Nutrition Services. Farmer Ben can often be found next to his shiny new mobile kitchen, serving up something tasty, new, and healthy to students.

Peabody Elementary parent Emily Holmes serves as the schools garden team lead. She works independently to coordinate teachers and students, leads garden work days herself, involves parents and community members through the PTO, and maintains four additional in-ground beds.

Richland Elementary dedicated their garden to Anna Pechak, a teacher who lost her battle to cancer, but loved nothing more than to be out working in the garden. In her name, Garden Team Lead Lorelai Esterman has infused Richland’s garden with unmatched energy and care. We wish Mrs. Esterman the best in her upcoming retirement.

Snowden Elementary actively engages many members of their community in their garden efforts. Though their water source is quite far from the garden, teachers, students, administrators, parents, and community members have come together to grow an abundant garden for the school and greater community.

Tasha Jones from Coordinated School Health is an incredible garden advocate andpartner here in Memphis. Tasha is known by our team as someone who shows up to schools with energy and enthusiasm, no matter if the task is a fun garden planting or a difficult garden clean out.

The Compost Fairy has partnered with Big Green to compost our organic garden waste. If you’ve seen us, or even helped us, put weeds and plants of past seasons in a big brown bag – that garden waste went directly to the Compost Fairy!

Vollentine Elementary’s garden is a hub of creativity and growth. Under the care of Garden Team Lead and art teacher Katie Lepo, Vollentine’s garden is a place of beauty, inspiration, and hard work. 

Westside Middle’s garden laid dormant for several seasons, but under the supervision of new Principal Peterson, the garden has seen new life and #realfood has become an important and valued part of their school culture.

To our 2019 Learning Garden Champions – we are so grateful for your partnership, dedication, and hard work. Thank you for helping us make our vision of #realfood for everyone more of a reality in Memphis schools.

Beyond our Big Green Thanksgiving event, we are grateful for our teachers and students who have weathered this tricky fall season with resilience and good humor. This season Memphis has endured scorching heat quickly followed by a hard and bitter freeze. Many of our gardens have been seriously stunted by the extreme weather. So, thank you to all our determined and diligent garden workers. You have given it your best, but sometimes all you can do is hunker down and wait for a better season. 

It’s just about time to open that door and let Thanksgiving in! With deep gratitude and hope for better seasons: Happy Thanksgiving, Memphis!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Memphis Big Green team!
Thank you to Wiseacre Brewing Co. for the location
Teachers gearing up for trivia
Marie and Erika getting ready for trivia
Tasha Jones with her Learning Garden Champion Award
The Compost Fairy: 2019 Learning Garden Champion