Each year, CAC Beardsley Community Farm donates more than 10,000 pounds of produce to Knox food kitchens and pantries. This Friday, Jan. 26, you can give back to this giving organization by attending the 10th annual Snow Day fundraiser at The Mill and Mine at 227 W. Depot Ave., starting at 7 p.m.
The evening will feature music by Annabelle’s Curse, Sweet Years, The Theorizt, Old City Buskers and The Spooky Ooos. At least eight restaurants will compete in a “Best Soup” contest, including Boyd’s Jig and Reel, Cru Bistro and Wine Bar, The Plaid Apron and more. Vegan and vegetarian soups will be served with Flour Head Bakery Bread. The silent auction features more than 100 items from area businesses. Tickets are $15, plus $5 for the soup contest, or $10 for both if you pre-order from https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3191493.
The six-acre farm, through Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, employs a small staff and has about 2,000 annual volunteers. It operates at Malcolm-Martin Park in Mechanicsville, on land donated by the city of Knoxville in 1998. The garden began as a way to provide fresh fruits and vegetables in what was a “food desert,” an area lacking in places where residents could find fresh foods. Today, in addition to its produce donations, the farm also helps maintain 25 community gardens across Knox County, holds workshops and demonstrations, and distributes free seeds and plants to 1,100 households through its Green Thumb program.
Fundraisers help keep the farm operational, says Charlotte Rodina. “This could be anything from repairing equipment to paying utilities to purchasing new seeds,” she says.
Thanks to a fundraiser last fall through Three Rivers Market, staff and volunteers are working on a new enclosure for the farm’s beehives, with native plants and herbs in the space.
In 2016, students from the University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture and Design and others completed the Beardsley Farm Education Center. Created with many sustainable building techniques, it’s a perfect place to talk about sustainable agriculture and demo practices. In the works for 2018 is a dedicated functional demonstration kitchen.
“It’s been a wonderful space for us to teach in and work in,” Rodina says.
Come February, the farm will need help with planting, seeding, weeding and repairs. The farm welcomes new and experienced volunteers of all ages. The first community volunteer workday is Feb. 24, from noon to 3 p.m. at the farm at 1741 Reynolds Street. Info: 865-546-8446, [email protected] or www.beardsleyfarm.org.