Free Essential Garden Kits Available

Start your own Essential Garden with FREE SEEDS provided by the University of Tennessee at Martin through the NWTN LFN. Additional potting materials are donated by Rural King and the Martin Coop while supplies last.

Pick-up your Essential Garden Kit on Saturday, May 9th from 8am – 12 noon at the Martin Farmers Market, and get everything you need to start an Essential Garden. While supplies last, Northwest Tennessee residents can pick up seed packets, garden containers and soil from the Martin Farmers Market which is located in Downtown Martin, TN 38237 in between Lindell and Broadway Streets.

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There will also be a plant and garden pots swap set-up at the same time. You can swap as many plants and pots as you bring.

This is a small public event, where we encourage all to practice good personal health habits including wearing face masks, following 6-feet social distancing guidelines, and, if you are feeling ill, please stay at home. All volunteers will be wearing facemasks, gloves, and following the CDC recommendations for safety.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN), a local nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN, is encouraging residents to try out vegetable gardening. You can start with an empty milk jug, a big pot, raised bed, or a patch of dirt in your yard. All you need is a seed, sun, soil, water and air – and we have plenty of that in our region!

Packets may contain a variety of vegetable seeds such as lettuce, kale, turnips, radish, pollinator friendly flowers and a variety of beans. Growing vegetables at home provides not only nutritional benefits, but also financial gains and opportunities. Through the bounty of your own homegrown harvest, an additional plus is improved health and well-being through increased physical activity.

“Even if you have no desire to grow your own food, an easy way to strengthen communities is by eating more of what grows locally, and learning to grow some of these foods ourselves, but also supporting our community by investing in our local food system – namely farmers, home gardeners, the Local Food Network, area farmers markets, restaurants and food pantries,” stated Samantha Goyret, Local Food Network Director.

Links to instructional videos will be provided to those who pick up seeds via our Facebook Group page:

The Dyersburg Master Gardeners sowed this idea in April 2020, “We wanted to offer families the opportunity to grow their own food during this time. Gardening is the cure for boredom AND hunger. It’s the quarantine solution,” stated Carin Wilson, coordinator of the Dyersburg Essential Gardens project and Facebook group.

UT Extension has a series of fact sheets to inform home gardeners about vegetable production such as ‘The Tennessee Vegetable Garden – garden planning, plant preparation and planting’, by Natalie Bumgarner, UT Extension Residential and Consumer Horticulture Specialist.

The LFN has several programs you can be involved in such as Plant a Row for the Hungry by sharing your harvest with your neighbors to help struggling families and the elderly in need of fresh food. Purchase an ad in the upcoming Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide coming out at the end of May which will help cover the costs of printing. Purchase your vegetables and local products from Northwest Tennessee farmers markets when they start opening in June. Download a copy of the Food Relief Agency Guide at Start a compost bin and turn your food scraps into soil. Give an essential gift to your mother for Mother’s Day – grow an essential garden for free. Share pictures with us on our facebook page: