Our History

EarthMatters Tennessee
Organizational Snapshot

1991

Founder/Director Sizwe Herring begins work with the Green Neighborhoods Project (a division of ReCycle!Nashville) as project manager for the city wide Leaf Lift contest where thousands of bags of leaves are rescued from Nashville area curbsides for organic composting. This annual activity continues to divert “waste” from landfill and incineration. Leaves were arranged as the first land sculpture in the shape of a giant Ankh, the egyption key of life. Each year an estimated 30,000 lbs of organic compost was created and freely distributed for use in community gardens and beautification projects.

1993

Edgehill Garden founded with Rev. Dick Allison and the Organized Neighbors of Edgehill (ONE). Sizwe completes Permaculture (PC) Fundamentals Course at the EcoVillage Training Center in Summertown Tennessee under the expert tutelage of Peter Bane, Andrew Goodheart, Patricia Allison and Albert Bates.

1994

Hired at Kids To The Country (a project of Plenty, International) to assist with programming and identifying children for this week long immersion program for at-risk children.

1996

Sizwe completes PC Certification Course with design work done at Rocinante, land owned by Stephen Gaskin, founder of The Farm in Summertown, TN. EarthMatters Tennessee independently spins off from Green Neighborhoods Project 2000.

1997

Built second land sculpture in the shape of an Infinity symbol at the Edgehill Gardens.

1998

Sizwe joins the staff at Tennessee State University as a Student Affairs student center supervisor bringing more ecological acumen to the 9000 students, faculty and staff.

1998

Sizwe became residential land companion at the 135 acre Penuel Ridge Contemplative Retreat Center and moved to Ashland City, TN. As land companion he was responsible for the forest, lake, trail and gardens health and care. As resident companion he was responsible for guest hospitality and led retreats as well.

1999

Sizwe is featured panelist at the EarthSpirit Rising Conference in Louisville, KY with 1,100 in attendance. Constructed the third land sculpture in the shape of a peace sign.

2001

Sizwe joins the executive board of the American Community Gardening Association. The AACA board travels the Americas in support of the community and urban gardening movement.

2001

Appointed by Gov. Don Sundquist to serve a four year term on the Tennessee statewide Solid Waste Control Board.

2002

Awarded Middle Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Environmental Educators Association. Resolution presented by Mayor Bill Purcell honoring EarthMatters for outstanding work in the field. EarthMatters Tennessee becomes federally recognized as a 501©3 organization.

2002

Gateway to Heritage is founded with JUMP (Jefferson St. United Merchants Partnership) to beautify and raise the community esteem of the Historical Jefferson St. corridor.

2003

Created the fourth land sculpture into the shape of a yin yang symbol.

2004

Created the Gateway 2 Heritage student action group at Tennessee State University with Prof. David Padgett.

2005

EarthMatters joins in the formation of the Tennessee Organic Growers Association.

2006

Sizwe and EarthMatters join the founding board of the Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee. Gateway 2 Heritage becomes an official student run organization at TN State University. The comprehensive TSU Campus/Community Recycling Resource Center is created with EarthMatters on TSU’s campus in association with Metro. Nashville Recycling office.

2007

DeFord Bailey Tribute Rose Garden Installed with a grant from Lifeworks Foundation. 260 organically cared for rose bushes planted under the expert design of rosarian Dr. Louis Mishu.

2008

Awarded the Local Hero recognition by the Local Table magazine.

2008

DeFord Bailey Rose variety grown by Whitt Wells of Memphis installed at the Bailey Garden for the first time in the world. Secret Life Greenhouse (a 60’ x 30’ hoophouse) erected at the Carver Food Park. This place serves as both a nursery for plants and classroom. Volvo station wagon donated to EarthMatters for the fine work done in the community.

2008

Attended and featured in the Green For All national conference on green jobs. Over 1,100 mostly African American and Hispanic Americans attended this conference hosted by leading environmentalist Van Jones.

2009

Became a founding member of the Green Jobs Task Force of Nashville and Davidson County. Principal partners in the writing of the resolution to city council which was overwhelmingly approved and passed on July 14th, 2009.o n

2009

Greasel (Veggie oil powered) Bus” donated to EarthMatters Tennessee. Relish Magazine article, circulation 15 Million, “How His Garden Grows” features Sizwe and the team at EarthMatters and the Carver Food Park.

2009

Built fifth land sculpture in the shape of a giant heart. Garden Girl Patti Moreno visits Tennessee in support of EarthMatters Tennessee and the Geo. W. Carver Food Park

2010

Sizwe hired as Urban Agriculture Specialist/Community Garden coordinator by Community Food Advocates under the city wide NashVitality grant.

2011

State abruptly closed down 90% of the Carver Food Park. Gardens, tool bank, greenhouse, pavilion and an estimated 60,000 lbs of compost destroyed for distribution. Aztecan, Nahuatl farmers (in Nashville with Vanderbilt Universities Latino Studies Department) honorably planted the final patch of maize using traditional practices and ceremony.

2012

Relocated Carver Park to 4 various locations around Nashville including American Baptist College, McGruder Family Resource Center, Hobson United Methodist Church and two lots on 10th Ave. N. and Monroe S

2012

Completed Fellowship with Green For All, an Oakland based enterprise dedicated to solving the two biggest challenges facing our national urban cores – eco-based jobs and the environment.

2013

Director Sizwe Herring was awarded the Real Food Hall of Fame by Community Food Advocates. Honored to be inducted with Rev. Bill Barnes. Transitioned headquarters, tool bank and gardens to Youth About Business Training Center.

2014

Sizwe and Lanny Smith asked to speak/perform at the Chicago Climate March. Marched along side of hundreds of climate change activists to finale at Dailey Plaza in downtown Chicago.