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Project Sprout took root in founder Nadia Shabazz’s backyard. Her family had a need for fresh produce since the nearest supermarket only carried semi-spoiled bananas and tomatoes. Shabazz started small, planting leafy greens and berries. When it came time to harvest, she gave extras away to neighbors. She began to see drastic improvements in her children’s health and thought that everyone on her block could benefit. She began inviting neighbors who didn’t have gardens to come plant on her land.
“A happy and healthy community is not a fairytale. All you need is a seed.”
— NADIA Shabazz, FOUNDER
Shabazz had to extend the garden to her front lawn but even then, it wasn’t enough to feed all who wanted to be involved. With neighbors January Blum and Lucas Dupont, Shabazz found a large vacant lot on Main Street and secured it as a farming cooperative. Word about Project Sprout spread throughout Kent County, so the team was invited to help start other community gardens.
Kent County is one of the most severely underserved communities in Tennessee. To combat this adversity, Project Sprout seeks to nourish our neighbors at the most fundamental level with healthy food options and a strong support network. All members get a portion of each harvest and surpluses are donated to low-income families whose work schedules prevent them from volunteering.
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With ten gardens and counting, Project Sprout has seen a significant improvement in mental and physical health for all participating community members. Other than lowering obesity, blood pressure, and depression rates, the crime rate has also fallen. Our children are doing better in school, reporting higher grades and aspirations, and better job prospects.
If you live near one of our gardens, get involved to receive portions of each harvest. We accept volunteers regardless of skill level. There is a rotation in roles, but we’ll teach you all the skills you need to know. Teenagers 14 years and older can earn community service credits for school in addition to getting produce for their families. Donations are also vital to our growth, as we use them for seed, fertilizer, tools, and outreach.