Within the concrete jungle that is Uptown Memphis lies a garden filled with veggies, fruits, herbs and prosperity. Black Seeds Urban Farms is a partnership with the City of Memphis Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to abolish blight around our city—and founders, Bobby & Derravia Rich, have turned their hobby of gardening into community gardens that will open to the public in spring 2021.
“The time is now, more than ever, to highlight the concept of growing and maintaining food in the urban core. Urban farming is a vital component to the evolution of the communal culture and a sustainable food source in Memphis,” Bobby commissioned.
Bobby and Derravia are very fruitful neighbors, to say the least. While we may have to wait a little while to see their community gardens bloom, they have small version of their larger concept growing in their backyard that Memphians can take advantage of now.
Black Seeds started out around 2015 as an extension of the couple’s gardening hobby that started when they were growing up. The home that the Rich family lives in has actually been in the family for generations, and was passed down to them by Derravia’s grandfather who was known throughout the neighborhood for the garden he grew.
Before Bobby became the master gardener that he’s known as today, he was that local firefighter who showered his co-workers and loved ones with fresh food, herbs, and botanicals that he harvested himself. As his garden grew bigger, so did the community surrounding it—and that’s when Derravia encouraged Bobby to take a leap of faith to turn his hobby of gardening into a business that gives back.
“The [uptown] community is woven together from our roots,” Bobby said. “I want to teach people how to take care of their roots, literally from the ground up—starting with the nutrients we put in our bodies.”
Black Seeds is working with the CRA to create community gardens in Uptown that will be open to the public in Spring 2021. In addition to having all sorts of locally-grown, organic goods, the grounds will also play host for events like picnics, yoga sessions, youth programming and gardening courses. The hope is that the gardens will be a safe space to cultivate community as well a source to relieve food insecurity.
Bobby referred to Black Seeds as a source of grounding during this hectic year as the garden has helped him remain down to Earth and connected with Mother Nature.
There’s a lot in store for Black Seeds as they gear up to launch their new location in the spring! They’ve already partnered with Urban Earth, a local garden center that will be providing their landscaping—and they also plan on collaborating with many other local businesses and makers. The CRA will soon launch a docuseries that features Black Seeds called “Owning the Land.”