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Inspiring Conversations with Bobby & Derravia Rich of Black Seeds

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bobby & Derravia Rich.

Hi Bobby & Derravia, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
The overall health of a community is benefited by increasing its capacity to create an environment that truly sustains its residents. Our reliance on industrial foods has resulted in a food supply riddled with hidden environmental, economic, and health care costs and beset by rising food costs. Black Seeds will not only help bridge the gap of social interaction and neighborhood/community development it also will provide an environment that is conducive to the overall look and growth of Memphis. There has been an unbelievable plan put into place for the future of the Uptown area by the City of Memphis Community Redevelopment Agency. Our business venture correlates directly with the redevelopment plan the City of Memphis CRA envisions for the Uptown area. The mission of the Founders is to improve the overall quality of life for Mid-Southerners by encouraging and promoting healthier lifestyles, practical spirituality, purpose finding, environmental change, & local empowerment that consist of a holistic approach of many ways to help collectively evolve into the NEW Memphis. Black Seeds specializes in products and services that can help reorient one’s mind, body, and spirit. Our goal is for Memphians to holistically transform into a better self individually.

My name is Derravia K. Rich. I, along with my husband Bobby are the owners of an unconventional urban garden named Black Seeds. We are located at 580 N. 4th St. Memphis, TN 38105 in the progressive Uptown area of Memphis. We made plans to open in May 2020. However, due to the pandemic of COVID-19 our opening plans are undetermined. Our goal is to serve as many people in the Greenlaw and communities throughout Memphis with sustainable, delicious foods grown within their neighborhood. The timing is right for starting this new venture. Universally, we are entering a new shift of change and we believe this to be our opportunity as a collective to spread love, peace, positivity, wealth and health across all platforms in Memphis. For some funny reason, people love me and Bobby’s relationship. We have been together for about 12 years and just married in July 2017. Although we consider ourselves to still be newlyweds a lot of people kind of look up to our relationship because we are perfect examples of staying together & sticking it out together. Bobby is a Fireman for the City of Memphis who is also an Empowerment speaker, Herbalist, Spiritual Advisor, Urban Farmer and just an all-around awesome guy.

On the job, Bobby deals firsthand with local crime and helps people during some of the most traumatic times in their lives. Being a part of the Memphis Fire Dept. and parents for over five years, Bobby and I both have concerns about the type of foods our daughter eats/most children consume, general family lifestyles, and even the unhealthy diets that most of his co-workers have adopted while on the job. The inconvenience of healthy foods has caused most families and even our neighborhood hero’s to resort to eating fast food regularly. This observation plays a huge role in why our project includes dynamics of areas to grow healthy foods, space to enjoy with loved ones, and the service of transported goods. There are so many people and families in Memphis who need this resource and outlet. Sometimes my husband takes bags of harvest to work to give to his coworkers to provide nutritional items that they may not have access to while on the job. Just from seldomly taking harvest from our private garden to work, Bobby has seen more and more of his coworkers make small talk about the deliciousness of what’s growing in our garden. It is such a warm feeling to hear people say that they have tasted an item out of our garden and how tasty it was! I’m an Entrepreneur with a background in over ten years of experience in Financing, Financial Advising, Account/Project Management, and General Management. Since I have moved back home to Memphis, my Managerial experience has somehow boomeranged in so many directions.

Prior to that, I worked as Territory Manager and General Manager for Financial Service Companies in Memphis and throughout eastern Tennessee. I often speak about Financial advising while educating the importance of Financial literacy at local schools, churches and events. I currently work for Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Covington as the Digital Agronomy Work-Based Learning Coordinator and a local non-profit organization named ProGeny Place. I coordinate the Digital Agronomy program that has been newly launched in the State of TN to incorporate a pipeline of Agriculture education in grades K-12 that potentially lead to educational opportunities in post-secondary levels. With ProGeny Place, I work with many local people and students to assist in finding employment, job training, and/or post-secondary education in the Mid-south. I am also a part of several local Ag groups who are completely committed to growing better food for our children who attend schools in underserved areas. While creating my mark in the Agriculture industry, I am now confident enough to admit that not only is the food not healthy at most fast-food restaurants and schools, it’s just simply not good. I read so many stories about major manufacturers that are creating Genetically modified meats and meat glues to hold together imitation meats that have been grinded with toxic chemicals.

Prior to COVID-19, I have been a guest at several local schools and I would often come across the lunch that was being served. A lot of times, I would notice that the children would just sit the food on the table or not even go in the cafeteria’s food line. It would bother me because I couldn’t imagine myself as an adult, going all day long without intaking some type of food. Sadly, many of our children are doing just that during school hours and some adults at work. Not eating good foods can result in a slow development in a child’s attention span. I took note of that observation and not only wanted to change the stigma of gross school food but change the narrative of healthy foods being tasty and craveable. I would often speak to Parents who would put eating healthier further down on their list of priorities due to the simple fact that it is inconvenient. I am a very relatable person who not only converses with other Memphians about all sorts of issues but someone who understands directly of the hardships that come from food deserts in certain areas in Memphis. Fast forward, my husband and I discuss our careers and experiences that we endure often.

Since our work experiences are discussed regularly, we both know how desperately our city needs some real inner-city guidance and leadership whether it is professionally, financially, spiritually, and even nutritionally. We are both advocates of better food options for students, families, and public workers even while they are on the job. So from providing nutritious foods to create jobs with better opportunities to self-empowerment/awareness to mentoring the youth to promoting love city-wide; We are an organization that promotes an environmental and economic change by providing resources locally that consists of various holistic approaches that will contribute and help evolve into a healthier, NEW Memphis! Memphis is on the brink of an unbelievable change! What other better way is there to start a holistic transformation than to start with one’s health. We have the vision of concinnating an undeniable space that welcomes all people from different walks of life. The start and growth of this new agriculture is the revitalization & stimulation that local communities need in Memphis. Changes in the food system have ripple effects through everything because food is a central part of human activity. The rise of new urban agriculture will have a significant effect on our economy as it is on our health. Let’s reclaim our right to great food through urban agriculture.

We are all human, we all have one common interest—food. The fresh harvest, beautiful scenery and private outdoor exposure is the exact remedy any distressed area needs. Black Seeds is an urban garden located in the heart of uptown Memphis in the Greenlaw community that takes pride in specializing in growing and harvesting honest, non-toxic, delicious foods for local Memphians. Black Seeds is an organization that has an equal responsibility to the people, the community, and to the planet. In 2020 and beyond, we are aligning ourselves with our true inner God and taking better care of our individual self, the city we live in hence the planet. We believe that our growing reputation will be a joining force in leading the paradigm to a new culture in the Mid-South. Our produce is pesticide and chemical-free. No toxic chemicals are used. People want fresh food and we just want to grow it! The Founders of Black Seeds are on a mission to plant seeds figuratively and literally!!!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The journey to building Black Seeds has not been a smooth road but it surely has been a tread down an unimaginable, purposeful path. We have faced many struggles but certainly, the pandemic is at the top of that list. As many others faced, the beginning of COVID-19 completely detoured our plans of opening Black Seeds. Our plan was to open in Uptown Memphis May 2020. Once realized that we would have to postpone our project to a later date, we were both saddened by the fact that we would not be able to show what we had worked on for so long. However, it was not long that we came to the realization that the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. I was given more time to meticulously work on details that I thought were finely combed through and Bobby was able to incorporate new sustainable methods in Gardening that he did not previously practice. Looking back to when COVID-19 first started, our perspective on timing and so many other things has completely changed. The type of work we do comes with many X-factors beyond our control. As we have faced many challenges, we have learned to always be optimistic, patient and not so rigid in our own plans.

We’ve been impressed with Black Seeds, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Black Seeds is an all-inclusive, splendid Garden that has a commitment to providing an enjoyable and therapeutic outdoor experience for all to enjoy. Our garden is a place where you can come to pick fresh harvest, just to simply contemplate, or to enjoy our Picnic Packages. We offer services like Picnic Packages, Yard2Garden Transfers, Event Space, and garden programs for all ages. We are truly most excited about our Picnic Packages. All picnic packages are customized to your desire and comfortability. Picnics are scheduled by appointments and can be scheduled in the day or night time depending on your appointment time. One of the best things about our Picnic’s is that anyone can be socially distanced! Our garden is in a large area that will permit as much space as one would need. Each picnic package comes with Black Seeds’ entire garden as a private environment to be used at the guest’s leisure. It also includes garden view access, picnic baskets, customizable charcuterie board, water bottles, picnic cutlery, picnic blankets, lounge pillows, projector screen access, music, hammocks, and hanging swings. The picnic setting can be located in our Zen Garden or near a tree of choice. All picnics include a delicious charcuterie board that consists of some fresh items straight from the grounds of Black Seeds and other undeniable light snacks that are very tasty. Black Seeds was cultivated to provide a beautiful outdoor experience for all to enjoy. Lay on our dwarf grass and sink your feet into the beautiful grounds of a place that was created with you in mind. Relax and enjoy a private space that has a commitment to open-mindedness, healthy living, and eating.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
Our family members (especially our parents, My Uncle Robert “Bubay” Freeman and Grandmother Hazel Moore aka “The Mayor of Whitehaven”), The City of Memphis CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency), neighborhood members, and true friends have all played a major role in our perseverance and success. They have all supported us in so many ways and we are forever grateful.

Contact Info:

  • Email: blackseeds2020@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @blackseedsurbanfarms


Image Credits:

Photo Credit: Jason Boulton Photo Credit: Erin Cole

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