Ben Conaway is about to make his longtime dream of a community garden come true.
Ben and his wife, Molly, have long been active in the Oakwood Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association – Molly is a past president, Ben a longtime board member. Ben is also a certified athletic trainer who works for Tennova and is assigned to Fulton High School, where he works with student athletes in multiple sports. Molly is a pastor with Crossings Knoxville and coaches girls volleyball at Fulton.
They are parents of infant twins Titus and Cana. This weekend, the Conaways are in Murfreesboro where the Falcons are playing in the state boys basketball tournament.
But as soon as they get back to Knoxville, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be digging in the dirt.
By the time spring sets in, the vacant lot at 131 E. Burwell Avenue that he, Colton Kirby and some other neighbors bought at a city surplus property sale will be sprouting spring produce.
“We’re pretty passionate about it,” Ben said. “Our plan is to start a non-profit called ‘Cultivate Wholeness’ that will hopefully be there for years. We want to invest in community development and get to know our neighbors.”
The plan is to make it a combo community garden and market garden, which is allowed under an ordinance that OKs selling produce directly from the property.
“Portions of our neighborhood are in a food desert,” he said. “Some of what will be happening is, ‘Hey neighbors, come here and collectively grow food and sell at affordable prices.’ We’re going to roll out the red carpet and see who shows up.”
The Burwell Gardens group has a Facebook page at OLPNBurwellGardens and a gofundme campaign at olpns-burwell-gardens.