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Beardsley Community Farm has a new education center and other amenities thanks in part to students and faculty in UT’s College of Architecture and Design, many community partners and donations from area businesses.

To celebrate the education center, the City of Knoxville will hold an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the farm at 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 9. The farm is located at 1741 Reynolds Street in Malcolm Martin Park.

An artist’s rendering of the Beardsley Community Farm’s new education center.

Founded in 1998, the farm is an urban nonprofit community farm that produces food for local hunger relief organizations and shelters.

The education center was designed and largely constructed by students and faculty in the college. Professors Bob French and Jennifer Akerman worked with more than fifty students during the past two years as the project went from concept to construction to completion.

“I have been delighted and proud to see our students become real design leaders in this experience learning project,” said Akerman. “They’ve spent time identifying an opportunity for new architecture to engage the community while recognizing the richness of the farm’s context in the Mechanicsville neighborhood.

Beardsley Community Farm’s new education center.

“Following this project through design and construction transforms how students approach detailing and problem solving, two important skills in design careers.”

The architecture for the education center is designed to enhance the farm’s mission of engaging the community by creating a meaningful public space for the benefit of local residents, volunteers, and farm staff.

The center will serve as a home base for the farm, creating a new front door, while providing a classroom, honey-processing facilities, office space, and restrooms. Additional amenities include an amphitheater with an outdoor classroom.

General Shale donated all brick and mortar used on the project and provided support for UT students to learn the craft of masonry from master mason J.C. Newman.

The project is a collaboration between UT’s College of Architecture and Design through its Design-Build Program, the City of Knoxville, the Public Building Authority, Elizabeth Eason Architects, and Merit Construction. It has benefited from the support of General Shale, the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Paulk and Co., Stonepeak Tile, Keene Building Products, Columbia Forest Products, Baird and Wilson, and many others.


Amanda F. Johnson (865-974-6401,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,