Free Sweet Potatoes and More at University of Memphis Garden

Saturday's event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will be held at the University of Memphis demonstration garden located on Zach Curlin near the Campus School.

Pamela Denney

Is anything better than free food, especially if it’s locally grown and organic?

Find out for yourself Saturday at the University of Memphis vegetable garden, when participants will dig up sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes and take home what they find.

“We know they are going to be good,” said student and garden worker Sreedhar Jayaraman. “One guy already pulled up a sweet potato, and it was the size of a head.”

The dig at 1 p.m. is one of more than two dozen lectures and demonstrations planned for Let’s Grow Garden Expo, a free event at the demonstration garden located off Zach Curlin near the Campus School.

A sprawling stand of trellises, raised beds, fruit trees, and sunflowers, the campus garden operates year round, offering free produce to the extended campus community. It is run largely by students and volunteers.

Our goal has always been the same,” explained Art Johnson, the garden’s coordinator. “We want to educate, share food, and raise awareness about the beauty and validity of urban gardening.” To that end, educational programs Saturday will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with demonstrations on sustainable growing practices such as composting, soil health, and bamboo and string garden structures. Speakers affiliated with the event’s co-sponsor, the Memphis Area Master Gardeners, will cover related topics on winterizing trees, building beds, and constructing rain gardens.

Dozens of related vendors will be on hand, along with the Green Machine Mobile Food Market, a converted MATA bus that travels to Memphis neighborhoods without access to traditional grocery stores.

A new mural painted by Vinodini Jayaraman on the garden’s north wall also will be introduced at noon. The artist is a nearby resident and Sreedhar’s mom.

“We’ve always lived near the University of Memphis, so this is our neighborhood,” Sreedhar said. “My mother wanted to paint the mural just to give something back.”

Let’s Grow Garden Expo, Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the University of Memphis TIGUrS Demonstration Garden

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