OUR GARDEN & vision
Brooklyn Heights Community Garden (BHCG) is a .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. 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. Through our efforts, Brooklyn Heights will be a thriving food hub that honors the land, uplifts intergenerational learning and play, strengthens self-sufficiency through resource sharing, and nurtures transformation and growth for all who visit and work at BHCG.
The founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Heights Community Garden (BHCG)
Nella "Ms. Pearl" Frierson has always been able to take a little and create plenty. Ms. Pearl, a grandmother of 6, grew up in South Nashville public housing. In 1998, she and her daughters moved to Brooklyn Heights in North Nashville.
Ms. Pearl 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, artists, etc. 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. BHCG provides team building opportunities and promotes the teaching of sustainability and healthy living through nurturing plants and human beings.
Ms. Pearl has a Permaculture Design Certificate from Earth Activist Training and has worked with groups such as the Girl Scouts, FUGE Christian summer camp for youth, Ladies of Echelon dance troupe, Recycle and Reinvest, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, GROW Enrichment, Howard Congregational UCC Church, Living Roots Compost Tea, Permaculture Action Network, and American Baptist College.
2020-2021 Board of directors
Nella “Ms. Pearl” Frierson, Executive Director/Ex-Officio Board Member: Ms. Pearl, a grandmother of 6, raised her kids in Nashville public housing. In 1998, she and her daughters moved to Brooklyn Heights. Ms. Pearl bought the three lots across the street from her house and started the community garden as a way to bring the neighborhood together. Ms. Pearl has a Permaculture Design Certificate and has worked with local groups such as the Girl Scouts, FUGE Christian summer camp for youth, Ladies of Echelon dance troupe, Recycle and Reinvest, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, GROW Enrichment, Howard Congregational UCC Church, Living Roots Compost Tea, Permaculture Action Network, and American Baptist College an HBCU located in the neighborhood.
Ashley Vaughns, Board Member/Programs: 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.
Latrishia Frierson Milton, Board Member/Programs: 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.
Briana Perry, Board Member/Programs: Briana was born and raised in Memphis, TN. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies and a Master of Education in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies, both from Vanderbilt University. She taught in Memphis public schools for two years and then moved back to Nashville to do programming for the Women’s Center at Vanderbilt. Since 2017, she is Co-Executive Director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a statewide reproductive freedom advocacy organization. Briana brings her interest in Black feminism and leftist politics to the work. She also serves on the coordinating committee for the Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter.
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.
Wade Munday, Board Member/Fundraising: Wade has over ten years in nonprofit management experience, including work at Boston Children's Hospital, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a non-profit immigration law firm. His areas of expertise include fundraising and communications. A native of Tennessee, he graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University and Vanderbilt Divinity School studying religion and philosophy. He has two children. He is currently the Executive Director at The Addis Clinic, which deploys clinical expertise and digital solutions to medically-underserved parts of the world.
Anna Carella, Board Member/Fundraising: 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.
Marie Campbell, Board Member/Fundraising: 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 and 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 permaculture design and gardening 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.