CAC Beardsley Community Farm is an urban demonstration site that has promoted food security and sustainable urban agriculture through practice, education, and community outreach since 1998. The half-acre main site sits on the former grounds of Beardsley Junior High School. In 1996, the City of Knoxville provided funds to convert the abandoned school grounds into a garden and build a greenhouse. The same year, the Community Action Committee (CAC) received a grant to complete the conversion. We have certainly come a long way since our first planting, which was done in a few dozen baby pools filled with soil. Every year, we have built or amended raised beds, added functional structural elements, and become more involved in the surrounding community. Presently, Beardsley Farm has raspberry and blackberry brambles; muscadine grapes and blueberries; a young orchard of fruit and nut trees; and a community garden, all situated on six and a half acres of a public park—in addition to the half-acre demonstration site. The Farm is maintained by a farm manager, a small team of AmeriCorps members, and numerous volunteers from the Knoxville community.
CAC Beardsley Community Farm has several goals within the community. We exist to educate people of all ages about the possibilities and methods of organic and sustainable urban gardening. We give support and tools to community members to help them grow their own food, and teach about the financial and environmental benefits of home food production. Anyone who volunteers at the farm has the opportunity to learn for free; additionally, we offer structured workshops on such specialized skills as vermicomposting, beekeeping, mushroom logs, urban hen-keeping, and more. Another one of Beardsley’s goals is to provide fresh produce to people in need. All of the vegetables raised at CAC Beardsley Farm are donated to Family Crisis Center, Bridge Refugee Services, Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM), and Western Heights Baptist Center. We gain great satisfaction knowing that the bounty of the farm serves to nourish our community.
If you want to learn about organic gardening, you can volunteer with us. You can also sign up to maintain your own plot in our community gardens.
If you are a teacher or club leader, we can arrange for your group to visit the farm and learn about nutrition, the environment and teamwork.
Have other ideas? We will work with you to develop the project that best suits your group. Activities can include art projects, farm tours and assisting with our daily activities, such as watering, planting and harvesting.