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Nashville nonprofit and Tito's partner to serve the city's food deserts

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Posted at 8:16 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 09:17:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As food deserts persist in the City of Nashville, nonprofit and social enterprise Trap Garden partnered with Love, Tito's to give out more at-home grow boxes and raise funds for a truck to do more outreach.

During the month of September, Tito's non-profit arm Love, Titos will match up to $25,000 for Nashville's Trap Garden to purchase a truck to take produce education, as well as fruits and vegetables, to neighborhoods in food deserts.

Robert Horton started Trap Garden in 2014.

"I got frustrated with not having like fresh vegetable items near my university, Tennessee State University," explained Horton. "I said, ‘How can we end up creating like a fun and exciting movement, to be able to spread across the city?’ And in the Trap was born from there."

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Trap Garden Executive Director & Founder Robert Horton said he started Trap Garden in 2014 because he could not find affordable fresh fruits and vegetables close to his university.

He said the goal is to expose under-served communities in Nashville to food choices that are healthier than what they are eating.

"The closer we can get into people's homes, hopefully the better that they'll be able to eat or at least have more choices and options they might want to see," said Horton.

The organization has helped revitalize community gardens all over Nashville, and with the help of 600+ volunteers, provided growing materials and taught new gardeners how to find their green thumb.

One of Trap Garden's community partners Donald Frost, who helps manage the Garvy Garden in the Wedewood-Houston neighborhood, emphasized, "This is completely free. It's 100% free. Everything that we have out here: The tools, the seeds, the own garden space. If you live in an apartment or leaving a condo or live in a different area where you don't have your own land, you can come out here and access his own rent, your own piece of land and do whatever type of growing that makes sense to you and your community."

But, the efforts of the non-profit extend beyond physical space.

"We also recently have launched a garden locator so that people can hopefully be able to find gardens that are closer to their homes," explained Horton. "We get a lot of interest for people wanting to either volunteer or come out within the space to be able to rent a raised bed, which is totally free to rent."

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Tito's nonprofit arm, Love, Tito's, partnered with Trap Garden to help bring GroBoxes to those in food deserts in Nashville, Tennessee, who cannot walk to or do not live close to one of the program's community gardens.

During 2020, Trap Garden first partnered with Love, Tito's to give out 50 GroBoxes to those in Nashville who wanted to plant a garden at their home and didn't have easy access to a community garden.

"Especially during the pandemic, it's like people wanted to be outside and do something that was potentially safe and secure, but they not might not have had a community garden within their own community. [GroBoxes work] either in their front or their backyard to be able to go walk outside, get some sunshine, and then be able to grow something for their own household and children and family." said Horton.

During the month of September, Trap Garden is accepting applications for another 50 GroBoxes for more future gardeners in Nashville.

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The Nashville nonprofit and social enterprise, Trap Garden, began in 2014 to help alleviate food deserts in Nashville, Tennessee, by providing raised beds in community gardens throughout the city and educating about the importance of eating healthy.

As the need continues to bring produce to food deserts, the Trap Garden hopes the Nashville community will be generous in donating to the Love, Tito's campaign so they can purchase a truck.

"What this actual truck will give us the opportunity to do is to be able to go to a plethora of places all around the city and create these type of experiences for a lot of different communities. What those experiences is going to look like as first and foremost being able to provide fresh healthy food options for people," explained Horton.

"The second thing is a educational standpoint," he said, "Being able to do activations and pop-ups getting involved from not only with children and hopefully other schools but also corporations and providing some education on, 'What does it actually look like to be able to live a healthier lifestyle?' We can create an actual fun experience around growing."

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Raised beds await new gardeners in the Trap Garden's Garvey Community Garden in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood in September 2021.

"You appreciate it so much more if you're the person that's out there putting in that work," said Horton. "And I guarantee like once you grow your own, whether it's a tomato or lettuce or whatever it is you're growing, and you've had that first bite, you're completely have a difference of how you be able to look at those farmers who are producing things for the grocery store, as well as how you consume them as well."

Frost explained the mission goes beyond food. He said it is about building healthier neighborhoods.

"We're trying to connect people just the way that LinkedIn works," explained Frost. "All of them have common goals or common things that we'd like to do. Being healthy is one of those things I've seen across all demographics ages race, creed and Krios, right? We all want a healthy lifestyle for our families and these are the things that can connect all of us."

To donate to the Love, Tito's campaign for the Trap Garden truck during September, click here.

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Trap Garden staff harvested vegetables from the Garvey Community Garden in Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood in September 2021.