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Urban farming activist mourned as a passionate, caring community leader

Mia Madison (Courtesy photo)

Mia Madison had a vision for Memphis: The city’s food deserts could be permanently resolved with urban farming and local farmer support. 

That vision was cut short Sunday (July 10) night when she died in a one-car crash.

Officers responded to calls about the crash at 11 p.m., near the Interstate 55 exit of Millbranch Road in Whitehaven. Madison was pronounced dead on the scene, while the male driver was taken to Regional One Hospital.

Madison, executive director of Memphis Tilth since 2019, advanced the nonprofit’s mission of creating sustainable urban cultivation through community gardening.

She was a partner and avid supporter of the Chelsea Avenue Farmers Market. Madison started a garden there in 2020.

Since the accident, the Memphis Tilth office has been closed. The organization, however, issued a statement that reads, in part:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our fearless leader Mia Madison. For the past 4 years, Mia has been the driving force behind Memphis Tilth, but more than that, she was a friend, mentor, and pillar in the community. Mia cared deeply for the city of Memphis, the people, and the local food system.

“Her commitment and contributions are unmatched, and she will truly be missed. While we cannot replace such a beautiful soul, we will keep her legacy of stewardship alive and well … The board of directors will release a succession plan and opportunities to support the family and staff in the coming days … In the immediate term, please direct any urgent requests to Board Chair, Jade Clark, at jclark@aglaunch.com.”

The statement also appealed to the public to “respect the privacy” of Madison’s family at this time, as well as the organization. 

Madison championed the cause of filling in the spaces of fresh fruits and vegetables with collective community farming through thriving gardens. 

Those gardens would provide underserved communities with fresh, healthy produce if access to those staples were not available through grocery stores within a community. 

Madison, a native Memphian, was a master Gardener and master farm manager through the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Extension.

Serenity Funeral Home has charge of arrangements. Services will be announced later this week, a funeral spokesperson said. 

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