New garden at Tech’s food pantry

Forensic chemistry major Emma Schrider gets her hands dirty in the SeedFork garden at Tech Village. The garden grows fresh vegetables for the Tennessee Tech Food Pantry and is funded by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The project is a partnership between the school of agriculture and SeedFork, a local nonprofit focused on bringing fresh produce to underserved areas in the Upper Cumberland. 
Photo by M. Davis.

Two Tech interns and their supervisors planted a variety of vegetables behind the food pantry in Tech Village on April 10 as part of Cookeville’s Urban Gardens program.


The program is funded by a $14,400 grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture obtained last year by Dennis Duncan, director of the School of Agriculture. This allowed Tech to partner with Cookeville nonprofit Seedfork of the Highlands to make the fifth garden possible.


“The main objective for me is to help the community address some insecurity issues and to educate people on the importance of eating healthy vegetables and having them in their diet daily,” Duncan said. 


Seedfork of the Highlands provides food distribution programs, farm-to-fork dinners, horticultural therapy and community gardens to areas where people do not traditionally have access. 


“I think it is going to be a great partnership,” Seedfork’s president Randy Dodson said. “It is slowly building as we get more help and get more people involved in what we are doing so we can expand the gardens and better support the community.”


Students Sarah Harris and Amanda Phillips maintain and plant the gardens as Seedfork interns.


The garden features 10 raised beds with additional space for students to plant herbs and vegetables. 


All produce is available to Tech students and can be obtained directly from the garden or through the Tech Food Pantry program. 


"Our largest setback as of now is a lack of volunteers and exposure," Dodson said.


Anyone wanting to volunteer, see Cookeville’s Community Gardens Facebook page or website for more information.