Photo: Brooklyn Heights Community Garden
Finding new outings for your family in Nashville does not have to require you to spend a lot of money or go to crowded places. There are some lesser-known gems to discover that uplift the beautiful history of African Americans in the Nashville area. Here are five places I have visited over the past few years that offer insight, peace and adventure.
1. Visit Brooklyn Heights Community Garden
Location: North Nashville
Located in North Nashville, in a neighborhood tucked away off Trinity Lane, the Brooklyn Heights Community Garden is an urban farm that is owned and operated by Nella Pearl Frierson, affectionately known as Ms. Pearl. Over ten years ago, Ms. Pearl started this community garden as a space for healing and to provide healthy produce to neighbors.
What to do: More recently, Brooklyn Heights Community Garden has become a space for learning programs with children and adults, market days that are open to the Nashville community and consistent volunteer opportunities on Energy Exchange Wednesdays. On market days you can bring your family to tour the garden to see what’s growing on, play in the nature play space, support by buying fresh produce and meet Ms. Pearl. For upcoming events follow Brooklyn Heights Community Garden on Facebook and Instagram.
2. Escape to Promise Land
Location: Charlotte, TN
Promise Land is located about 45 minutes away from Nashville in Dickson County. It was originally established by freed slaves after the Civil War. They transformed the 1000 acres into a thriving community that included 50 homes, stores, two churches and a school. Ms. Gilbert, one of the living descendents who grew up in the community, continues to work hard to preserve the heriaage of the community.
What to do: The Promise Land Heritage Association offers very low-cost tours to small groups that share the triumphant story of the community. You can tour inside the one-room school which has original artifacts and see one of the remaining churches. You can take a look at their website for more details and to schedule a tour or donate to the preservation of the community.
3. Learn at Heniscity Farm.
Location: Pegram, TN
Located in Peagram, TN just outside of Bellevue, Heniscity Farm is a beautiful 16 acre poultry farm owned and operated by Cynthia Capers aka chocoMommaBird. This former trauma nurse, clinical researcher turned full-time farmer and guru of poultry loves her birds. Heniscity Farm’s mission is to provide natural production of high quality poultry eggs/meat, fiber hemp and herbs to local and diverse rural, urban and suburban communities.
What to do: Last year, I took a group of families out to visit Ms. Cynthia for a tour of her farm and the different breeds of poultry. From ducks to chickens to Guinea Fowl. She shared about her conservation efforts and their connections to ancestral farming practices. The families had a chance to see and feed the birds, find eggs and purchase some to take some home. We’ll be heading back out there on November 13th, so register here. You can contact Ms. Cynthia anytime to purchase fresh eggs and cage-free free-range meat.
4. Paddle at Long Hunter State Park.
Location: Hermitage, TN
Located a few miles from Providence Shopping Center in Hermitage, Long Hunter State Park offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with your family. The Bryant Grove area of the park was settled by Sherrod Bryant in the early 1800s and his family became one of the wealthiest African American families in Tennessee.
What to do: The park offers an easy paved 2-mile trail around Couchville lake that is scenic and peaceful, especially as the leaves change. But my favorite activity is to rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe and paddle around the lake for an hour. It is a calm and peaceful area because motorized boats cannot come to this area. Rentals are probably the cheapest in town ranging from $15-$20 an hour. Take a look at their website for more info.
5. Explore Fort Negley.
Location: South Nashville
Located in the heart of Nashville, next to the Adventure Science Center, Fort Negley has a rich history that entails the important contributions African Americans made to the Civil War and our ongoing quest for freedom. ]
What to do: You can walk along a relatively short paved trail to the top of the site. There are placards along the way telling the stories of the ancestors who were part of Fort Negley’s history. When you reach the top you will be amazed by the beautiful view of downtown and the surrounding of the city. This was also the space for the Juneteenth celebration hosted by Metro Parks this past June.
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