Helping communities by using blighted property

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One group and a South Memphis man are working to get rid of food deserts, and they could use your help!

They're fighting blight and food insecurity through a community garden.

"These are late bloomers, these are honeydews and cantaloupes."

It's clear Kenneth Randolph has a green thumb as he points out the garden's variety of produce — honeydews, cantaloupes, bell peppers, sweet corn, popcorn, squash.

He grows the gamut of fruits and vegetables behind the South Memphis apartment complex he lives in off Richmond.

"Going in the store, buying things in the store you got additives and preservatives. When you get it out of the ground, you're getting what God gives you."

Just feet from where his fresh produce grows is an empty plot of land full of tall weeds and branches from a massive tree that fell during the Memorial Day weekend storm.

Randolph hopes he can expand his garden to the city-owned property and involve more of his neighbors.

Keedran Franklin is with the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, which recently formed the C-3 Land Cooperative. They're working to help Randolph turn this overgrown property into a sustainable space the whole community can grow vegetables on.

"Whole Foods is out of the budget for people that's living in the inner community."

The C-3 Land Cooperative recently formed an IOBY page, a fundraising site to help with neighborhood projects to help get the community garden up and running.

"We want to be able to get the land, put it in a land trust so we can lease it out for a dollar, not making any money off it. We want people to be self-sustainable, and growing your own food is one of the best ways you can self-sustain yourselves," Franklin said.

People living in the area would only have to invest about a dollar to have their own plot of land, seeds and tools to grow.  Randolph is looking forward to sharing his passion with others.

The city says it's planning to send a crew out today to cut the tall weeds. Street maintenance crews have been contacted to remove the fallen tree.