Backyard Gardening

The 2022 Application Period Has Ended

The 2022 Build It Up participants have been selected and notified, and workshops will begin soon. If you would like to be notified when the application period opens for the 2023 cohort, please subscribe to our newsletter

About Our Program

Participants receive access to monthly organic gardening education workshops beginning in March and continuing through September on timely topics. Gardeners also receive seeds, plants, tools, tilling support, fertilizer, and other materials needed to help raise a successful garden at home.  The program is free to participating families, thanks to generous grant support from the Truist Foundation and Grow Appalachia.

We accept applications for Build It Up in January of each year and families are notified in February if they’ve been accepted into the program.  All ages, incomes, and family sizes are able to apply, but we put special emphasis on recruiting low-income families, families receiving SNAP and/or disability benefits, and families with young children.

This program was born from a shared desire to support the growth of a sustainable, community-based food system in our area. With the skills, knowledge, and commitment to gardening and farming, our community is enriched by increased access to fresh, organic, healthy foods.  We will prioritize folks who wouldn’t otherwise be able to garden without the support of this program, because our goal is to increase access to healthy, fresh food for all members of our community regardless of income.

In order to reduce community transmission of COVID—19, we will begin the 2022 program year with virtual workshops.  We will continue to monitor transmission rates in our community and may shift back to in-person workshops if appropriate later in the season. We are looking forward to being able to gather safely together as a community of gardeners soon!


Build It Up focuses its services to residents of Washington, Carter, and Unicoi counties. We do occassionally accept applicants from other counties as long as they are within 25 miles of Johnson City. Grow Appalachia has programs in other areas; click here to see if there is another program close to you.


Workshops are generally held March through September, and are currently only offered on a virtual platform. We hope to return to in-person workshops soon, as it becomes safe to do so again. Check out the schedule of workshops to learn more about the topics we cover.


We serve between 40 and 50 families each year, with at least 25 new families recruited each year.  Participants are allowed up to two years in the program. Meet our most recent participants by reading their blogs.