MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday as part of our Community Changers series, we shine a light on organization making a positive impact in our community.
This week, we caught up with a group who believes in art and therapeutic landscapes.
Megan Banaszek is the Executive Director of the Carpenter Art Garden. A non-profit organization providing art, education and vocational programs to students after school, for free. It all started ten years ago because the schools across the street didn’t offer any art programming.
“This is the art garden. This is our original lot. We’re across the street from Cornerstone and Lester Prep which is an elementary and middle school,” Megan said. “Everything you see here, students have made.”
That work includes the murals, mosaic work, raised beds and more.
“The play set is something the kids built. They designed it and presented it to us,” Megan said.
Raelye Harwell is a fifth grader at Cornerstone Prep.
The Carpenter Art Garden is truly a hands on after school and summer experience. It started with one lot and has expanded over the years to the entire block. You won’t find a community center, instead, you’ll find houses.
“You’ll have six kids in a cooking class, six kids on a bike ride, six kids in an art class, six kids in a book club,” Megan said.
One of the houses is Aunt Lou’s which is everything educational. They help with homework, host book clubs, financial literacy classes. They even have outdoor classrooms.
Another house on the block is the bike shop.
“Bikes are a major mode of transportation for a lot of our students and their parents. And so we offer open shop hours where we can do minor repairs… patch tires,” Megan said.
They also have a sewing club in the back. Plus, they use the kitchen for their cooking classes.
“Last week they made chili. They used all peppers from the garden for the chili,” Megan said.
They actually have two gardens.
Taylan was thirteen when he arrived at the Carpenter Art Garden, now sixteen, he helps harvest the vegetables.
“My name is Taylan Azor. I’m a garden worker here at the carpenter art garden,” Taylan said. “We pick vegetables from our gardens. Fresh tomatoes, greens, jalapenos and we come up here and sell them.”
Every Monday and Thursday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., neighbors can buy fresh vegetables at the corner of Mimosa and Carpenter.
That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give the carpenter art garden a thousand dollars.
When art is essential in every students life, the whole community benefits. A true Community Changer.