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Green Leaf Farm is a South Memphis gem for kids and community

A hidden gem, the Green Leaf Learning Farm was started to support the nutritional needs or the community where healthy food options are limited.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — The only USDA certified organic farm in Memphis, the hunger capital of the United States, sits in the South Memphis neighborhood of Soulsville.

A hidden gem, the Green Leaf Learning Farm was started to support the nutritional needs or the community where healthy food options are limited.

“f you understand some of the challenges that we have in Memphis, our zip code, 38126, is ground zero for those challenges,” Marlon Foster said.

Foster is the CEO of Knowledge Quest, the organization behind the farm.

It has since grown to be so much more, as also a hub for childhood education bringing kids from Pre-K through college to learn firsthand about farming without having to leave the city.

“There’s nothing like seeing the kid the first time that they pull a carrot out of the ground and they make that connection, when they wipe and take that bite,” Foster said. “It’s magical. That’s what really engages children, the discovery is seeing the process from seed all the way to an edible item that was an effort of their hands.”

Green Leaf offers multiple gardens, a culinary and gardening academy and on-site dorms for college students learning about agriculture.

“Students will be outside, engaged in all areas from vermiculture, with the worm bins, to caring for the chickens to growing food to really participating in a lot of the markets,” Foster said.

Foster hopes the farm can be a model for nutrition and education but also for how communities can rethink land use.

The farm spans 30 formerly blighted and vacant lots and it continues to grow.

“This is way a forward,” he said. “It’s also a way to show Memphis and the Shelby County community, here’s 30 vacant lots, here’s a way forward with how we as citizens can really begin to be proactive. You see all of the vacant lots, all of the blight, by way of assets vs. just as the deficit that they cause.”

The farm’s next expansion includes renovating two vacant buildings. One will be a corner store and the other will host the culinary academy and a farm-to-table restaurant concept.

Green Leaf is still in the fundraising process and hopes to begin renovations in the fall.

South Memphis kids can be apart of the farm and culinary discovery this summer. Green Leaf is currently taking applications for its free summer camp. Apply here.