by Sydney Jones —
Bobby and Derravia Rich turned a passion for gardening into a mission to provide freshly grown produce to their community.
The couple created Black Seeds Urban Farms to accomplish their mission. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a significant part of this couple’s life.
Bobby Rich began gardening in 2015 and it became his passion.
“At the time, my husband was starting a new career as a fire fighter … He would play around with gardening. He would grow cucumber. He would grow okra. He would grow all of this stuff!” Derravia recalled.
Bobby spent his free time in their garden. As the compliments on their yard poured in, Bobby’s passion grew. Over time, Derravia noticed her husband was bringing in a successful harvest and sharing it with his co-workers at the fire station.
Bobby said, “I’d be heading out, and she would hear this jostling of the Kroger bags. I guess it got to a point where she was like ‘What is he doing in there?’”
Derravia grew up with access to fresh food during her childhood. She saw Bobby’s passion as an opportunity to have her daughter grow up with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
Bobby and Derravia realized the high demand for fresh produce from the fire fighters and noticed the demand for fresh food in their neighborhood.
In 2019, Derravia’s grandmother fell ill, causing her and her family to move into her grandparents’ home to help take care of her grandmother.
There, Bobby dove deep into horticulture.
Derravia’s uncle, Robert Freeman, referred to as Buh-Bay by his family, took Bobby under his wing, teaching him how to garden.
The two shared many things in common, including Freeman being a former lieutenant for the Memphis Fire Department.
Freeman was more than willing to pass his teachings onto Bobby.
When Derravia’s grandmother died, the family held the repass at her grandparents’ home.
“At the repass, it ended up turning into this party in the garden. And now me and Derravia see very much so that her grandmother was there, present, but just in another medium,” Bobby said.
Derravia said her grandmother’s death and watching everyone come together to enjoy the beautiful garden is what birthed Black Seeds Urban Farms.
Eventually, word spread of Bobby and Derravia’s work, and they began providing fresh foods to their community. Once the couple saw how much of a difference they were making, the rest was history.
“When you come to Black Seeds, our current garden that’s in Uptown, a lot of people talk about how it’s so welcoming and how it’s so therapeutic,” Derravia said.
(Black Seeds Urban Farms is always looking for local, hands-on volunteers! All information on upcoming events and volunteer opportunities can be found on their Instagram page, @blackseedsurbanfarms.)
(Sidney Jones is a Clark Atlanta University student, who just completed a summer internship with The New Tri-State Defender.)