About

CAC Beardsley Community Farm is an urban non-profit community farm that promotes food security and sustainable agriculture. Since 1998, Beardsley Farm has worked to increase access to fresh produce in Knoxville’s food deserts through produce donations, educational programs, and community gardening. 

Every year, with the help of over 1,000 volunteers, we donate sustainably grown produce to local hunger-relief organizations and shelters. Beardsley Farm grows over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables on the farm, and donates over 11,000 pounds of produce annually. Produce donations go to a variety of Knoxville kitchens and pantries, including Mobile Meals, KARM, Global Seeds, and the Family Crisis Center.  

Our farm grows produce without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and features many examples of sustainable agriculture, including a compost system, honeybees, rainwater harvesting, a drip irrigation system, free-range chickens, and a fruit and berry orchard. Beardsley Farm is maintained by a farm manager, a farm assistant, a small team of AmeriCorps members, and numerous volunteers from the Knoxville community. We are proudly funded by the City of Knoxville and Knox County, through the Community Action Committee.


Our History

Malcolm Martin Park and CAC Beardsley Community Farm sit on the former grounds of Knoxville College Farm. Knoxville College Farm originally occupied six acres of land but increased its farmland to more than 100 acres before the start of World War I. Knoxville College Farm specialized in vegetable, poultry, beef, and pork production. 

With the growth of Mechanicsville in the early 1930s, the Knoxville Board of Education saw the need for a new school in this area. In 1935, land was purchased from Knoxville College Farm to become Beardsley Junior High School and Cansler Elementary School. This partnership allowed Knoxville College student
teachers an opportunity to complete their training at both schools. Beardsley Junior High School opened
its doors in 1937 and was named after Gertrude Beardsley, a member of the school board. Beardsley Junior High School closed in 1991. The former school grounds became Malcolm Martin Park, a City of Knoxville Park, named after Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, in 1995. 

Malcolm Martin Park includes 17 acres of land in the Third Creek watershed. The park includes the Mobile Meals Kitchen, the Ed Cothren Pool, a baseball field, basketball court, playgrounds, and CAC Beardsley Community Farm. In 1998, the City of Knoxville provided six acres of Malcolm Martin Park for community gardening. A half-acre of the abandoned school grounds was converted into a vegetable garden in order to provide healthy, fresh food to the Mechanicsville community. The same year, the Knoxville - Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) received several grants to complete the conversion. Since then, Beardsley Farm has worked to increase access to fresh produce in Knoxville through produce donations, educational programming, and community gardening.


What We Do

Education

Beardsley Farm provides educational programs for learners of all ages. We host field trips during the growing season, a series of community garden classes in the spring, and specialized workshops on a wide variety of topics, such as beekeeping, vermicomposting, pruning, and much more. 

Food Security

Beardsley Farm donates over 11,000 pounds of produce annually. Produce donations go to a variety of Knoxville kitchens and pantries, including Mobile Meals, KARM, Global Seeds, and the Family Crisis Center.

Community Gardens

Our community garden program manages 20 gardens across Knox County, providing space to grow fresh produce to over 150 residents every year.

Seed and Plant Distribution

Green Thumb's program supplies seeds for 12 different crops, as well as tomato and pepper plants, to 1,100 households in Knoxville and Knox County each year.