The Trap Garden is a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise that provides a sustainable source of healthy, high quality foods and offers innovative solutions to the physical, financial and educational shortcomings in food insecure communities.
Founded in Nashville, Tennessee by Robert “Rob Veggies” Horton, Rob’s motivation as an urban farmer and community health activist stemmed from his own experiences growing up in a St. Louis, Missouri neighborhood with few fresh, health food items. After relocating to Nashville to attend Tennessee State University, Rob was frustrated with having to drive miles away from his home for a grocery store that supplied quality fresh products. So, in February 2014 Rob decided to help to alleviate the problem by joining his Alma Mater’s Community Garden, and the Trap Garden was born.
Our mission is to help build, sustain, and empower low-income communities by assisting in the creation of community programming and the promotion of healthy eating.
Beginning as a way to grow his own vegetables and herbs, Rob also used the community garden to provide assistance to others in his community who do not have direct access to fresh and healthy products. Trap Garden’s goal is to equip food insecure communities while providing positive local programs and healthy eating education. The social enterprise seeks to motivate and inspire others to start something that matters in their communities, to not depend on a major grocery store or business to provide them with their daily needs. Through realizing their mission, the social enterprise improves geographic, economic and informational access to produce within food deserts. This fosters opportunities for community engagement, education and support, as well as economic empowerment, by returning the community and its resources to the people.
In Nashville, food insecurity is most prevalent in neighborhoods where schools are also under resourced. The city of Nashville has identified North Nashville as a food desert. In several parts of North Nashville, residents have restricted or nonexistent access to affordable, healthy food and produce because of the absence of grocery stores within a convenient traveling distance. To combat these issues, Trap Garden partners with local residents to establish community gardens and offers programs like Campus Ambassadors, a student group given tools and resources to start something that matters in their community. Trap Garden also hosts cooking demonstrations to introduce community members to nutritious and affordable meal options and recipes.
We create gardens in unlikely places
In March 2018, Trap Garden piloted a Garden Club at an elementary school in North Nashville where 231 of the 291 students enrolled at the school receive weekly food bags. The school is among the lowest-performing elementary schools in the state with the neighborhood’s low economic stability contributing to the poor academic achievement. Knowing that economic and environmental injustices in predominantly Black North Nashville affect the overall wellbeing of local residents, Trap Garden hoped the Garden Club would contribute to creating a positive change.
The Garden Club is an 8-week program focused on gardening, nutrition and consumer education. Students’ energy and excitement during the weekly Garden Club is palpable. Though many are eager to spend time in the school garden, they are also extremely engaged during the structured, indoor learning time. The kids even get to try new foods during healthy snack time. Several students have expressed their appreciation for the high energy, individualized approach of Trap Garden. At least five volunteers are present each week to teach and devote quality time to each student. One teacher shared that she knows the program has been a success because students ask about Garden Club several times each week. Their engagement is evidence of the potential of the program to add positive improvements in emotional and physical wellbeing to the community.
From Trap Garden on joining SEA: We are new to SEA but joined because of the passion and dedication to assisting social enterprises local members and staff showed at multiple events. With the assistance of the organization, we know that our voices will be amplified and tools sharpened to have a great impact on the communities we serve.
To learn more about Trap Garden, check out their member directory profile.