A sunny weekend afternoon is usually an opportunity for most people to relax and have fun, but one East Tennessee organization used the warm weather as a chance to get their hands dirty and make a difference in their community.
"S.E.E.E.D" also known as Socially Equal Energy Development helps people get their GEDs and pre-apprenticeships. The group decided to get together and "green the block" in their community for an issue cities like Knoxville face called a "food desert". A food desert is when an area has no access to locally grown food.
"We have Wiegels, that's about two miles but at the same time if you're walking and you have to carry about 10 grocery bags it gets hard," says Fundraising Coordinator Jessica Session. "We have bus transportation but you can only bring a couple of bags on the bus as well."
S.E.E.E.D members spent the weekend creating a mulch trail, painting retaining walls, and planting an edible forest.
"We have these 52 fruit trees, they're for the free nourishment of the community. People can walk on up and it's free, and hopefully when these blossom we'll have some people coming up here to get some fruit. It consists of many different variety of fruit trees. We have pears, we have kiwis, raspberry, blueberry, apples, peaches-- the list goes on." said Session.
The edible forest will provide free food for the community, as well as experience for the S.E.E.E.D members who will be taking care of the trees and shrubs. Volunteers of all ages came out to help with the rejuvination of the area, including First Baptist Concord's Third Sunday group.
"It's an opportunity to get out and minister with our families, no matter how old the children are it's a great opportunity to get out and be the hands and feet of Christ. It shows a great service to our community and lets our children get involved." said church member Jamie Lewis. "We try to be a good example for our children, get them out and work with them and that's what we're here to do today."
Grace Ashford is the grandmother of a member of S.E.E.E.D and she says that working with the various members of the community has been an inspirational experience.
"Being out here with them is just unbelievable. It's exciting. I hope that we can do more of this and get more community involvement from the youngest, to the seniors. I wish we could have MORE of this. Especially getting them connected to the earth, getting them connected to the ecosystem, and of course, all the different ages." she said.
The sun didn't seem to bother any of the volunteers like Tyler Hinton, a S.E.E.E.D participant.
"I get a satisfaction knowing that I helped people. I didn't just sit around on a Sunday and do nothing. I actually came out and did something for people. It just gives you joy, you know," he said. "You might not see it right now, do anything but in the future for our kids, and their kids the trees you plant here and the stuff you put on earth as of right now, is gonna be there till God knows when."
The group also gave away 70 trees for the community to plant, and they hope that efforts like this one will help their community and inspire other areas to take the same steps towards a brighter, greener future.