Simple idea leads to Belle Meade garden

Friday, February 25, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 8
By Hollie Deese

As the Director of Food Service for Park Manor, an independent senior living community in Belle Meade, 24-year-old Brandon Frohne puts a lot of care into the meals he creates. With a culinary background that includes stints at Nick and Rudy’s, The Palm Terrace and training at the Culinary Institute of America, quality has always been the key ingredient.

So after a trip to Whole Foods one day, where he spent plenty of money on local organic produce, the idea stuck in his mind that he could be growing his own vegetables for the residents at Park Manor.

“It made no sense to me why I couldn’t do this because I knew we had seven acres of property,” Frohne says. “It was in my head all day and finally I said ‘I am going to do it. I am going to dive in and see where it takes me.’”

Within three weeks the idea cultivated into a master plan and is now known as Park Manor’s Farm to Table project, a 30-foot by 40-foot organic vegetable garden that breaks ground May 2.

“It is unbelievable how fast it took off,” he says.

The sustainable project for the senior community is being aided by Frohne’s other initiative, Nashville Urban Gardeners.

“I don’t have any experience in gardening or farming,” he says. “I am a chef. I know about food and I love food. Food is my business. But this whole mission is to learn as we go so we can create better initiatives.”

Frohne’s family has a long history in food and sustainability. In fact, the fourth generation chef has family in Switzerland that led the same type of initiative in Indonesia.

“My cousin, who is a Swiss Monk, Pater Agatho Elsener, founded the organization Bina Sarana Bakti in 1984. He also is the founding father of organic development in Indonesia,” Frohne says. “The Center for Organic Development of BSB was the first organic farmer training center in Indonesia, which taught important principles in organic living and farming to over 10,000 farmers and organizations all throughout the country.”

When his cousin began the project, he knew little about organic farming but read books so he could educate others. Nashville Urban Gardeners has a similar vision, educating the community on sustainable gardening principles while also promoting unity, self-reliability and community strength.

“My overall goal for Nashville Urban Gardeners is to raise awareness of the initiative and develop a strong base of community support,” Frohne says. “This is aimed to provide inspiration and education within the community so that we can begin promoting sustainability through the development of additional community gardens throughout Nashville.”

An informational meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Park Manor Lifestyle Community. The program will include a tour of the proposed garden site and details regarding the variety of support requested. Park Manor is located at 115 Woodmont Blvd.