Brooklyn Heights Community Garden (BHCG) is a non-profit, .56 acre urban farm located on formerly vacant lots in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, a historically Black and low-income neighborhood that experiences food apartheid.
The founder of Brooklyn Heights Community Garden (BHCG) Nella "Ms. Pearl" Frierson had the vision for Brooklyn Heights Community Garden over a decade ago. In 2009, she bought 1833 & 1835 Haynes St, which at the time were vacant lots across the street from her home. She started growing a garden on the land and inviting people to join her. In 2014, she registered BHCG as a 501c3. In 2019, she bought the house next to the garden to use as a work-housing space for garden workers, interns, and artists. BHCG is registered with the USDA Farm Service Agency as an urban farm.
The creation of this garden stemmed from a deep need for the community to get back to its roots of connection between our elders and our young people, to rebuild and reconstruct self-awareness, self-pride, and self-esteem, and to remind people of all ages how to play in the dirt. Many of the residents in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood are elderly and on fixed incomes. There are no grocery stores within a mile from the garden. Public transportation is inadequate for residents who don't have another form of mobility. This is why our work is vital. We provide much needed fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables, and herbs right here in our own neighborhood.
Director of Programming & Development
Ashley Brailsford Vaughns, PhD is an educator who supports families and fellow educators to engage in joyful learning experiences with one another and children. Ashley spent over 15 years as an early childhood educator in schools, a professor in higher education institutions, and a family literacy program director in a national non-profit. Throughout her career her work has centered on preparing organizations and educators to meaningfully collaborate and learn with families in communities devastated by institutional racism.
Director of Operations
Anne Veal (she/they) is a creator, teacher and non-profit administrator who facilitates connection and compassion in her work. In addition to supporting BHCG, Anne teaches improvisation in Nashville with multiple organizations: at the women's prison with Thistle Farms, in the North Nashville community with Unscripted & JUMP, and at Third Coast Comedy Club. She has showcased her work as a performer and creator both nationally and internationally and helped run a start-up theatre in NYC before the pandemic. They are certified in Compassion Cultivation Technique and are passionate about centering joy & healing in all her work.
2023 BOARD of DIRECTORS.
From left to right: Anna Carella, Rhonda Scott-Kinslow, Latrishia Frierson Milton, Ms. Pearl, Roni McGregory, Ashley Vaughns, Marie Campbell, Kat Traut, Nicole Robinson-Hamilton on the 2021 Strategic Planning Retreat
NellA 'Ms PeArl' Frierson
Founder / Community Healer / Ex-Officio Board Member
Ms. Pearl is Montessori trained through Belmont University, a Certified Permaculturalist received from Earth Activist Training, a Life Coach trained by Radiant Coaches Academy, a Cosmetologist certified by Tennessee Tech, and a Reflexologist certified by Nashville Academy of Reflexology. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Tennessean, Nashville Business Journal, Economic Edge, Nashville Pride, and the Nashville Scene. She has won the Trailblazer Award and the Kwanzaa Nashville Award. She is a Poet and writer that has performed at the Frist Museum and in churches, schools, and prisons. Her personal mantra is: "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you must! Just get busy!!!"
Board Member, Chair
Marie has a background in community-based education and social justice activism in the U.S. South. Currently, she works as a designer and project manager for Nashville Foodscapes, a worker-owned cooperative landscaping company that specializes in creative food solutions and ecosystems design. Marie brings over ten years of experience building organizations that practice economic, racial, and environmental justice as well as her skills in garden design to the BHCG table. She has a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University and is currently pursuing a Masters of Conservation Biology, concentrating on food sovereignty and environmental justice, from Miami University.
Board Member, Outreach
Latrishia is a native Nashvillian with a passion for being of service to her family and community. This wife and mother of one, is a product of Nashville Public Schools and graduate of Tennessee State University (BA) and Belmont University (Masters of Arts in Teaching). She has 20 years of experience in finance and customer service, is a methodical thinker, and excellent communicator.
RhondA Scott- Kinslow
Board Member, Legal
Rhonda is a native of Nashville. She obtained her law degree from Indiana University School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government and African-American Studies from The University of Virginia. Rhonda is VP of Client Relations at All Rise, LLC and co-owns a law firm with her husband, Tracey, Kinslow Law Group, PLLC. Rhonda also is a professional coach and trainer where she trains in the areas of leadership development, conflict resolution and diversity. Rhonda is an active member of the Nashville community, serving on several boards and participating in numerous organizations, such as the Nashville Zoo, Bordeaux North Chamber of Commerce and Spruce Street House of Hope. She loves to travel, collect cookbooks, cook and spend time with her family.
More info to come!
Nicole Robinson HAmilton
More info to come!
Board Member / Secretary
More info to come!
Board Member / Treasurer
Anna grew up a yankee hailing originally from Michigan and has lived and worked all over in France, Senegal, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Afghanistan but put down roots in Nashville and has called it home for 11 years. She is certified in Permaculture Design and is currently in the process of becoming a Tennessee Naturalist. She hails from a long line of Italian/American gardeners and homesteaders, and was raised in a rich food culture. Her day job is reproductive freedom advocacy. Her night job is finishing her PhD at Vanderbilt.