Backyard Gardening

The 2023 Application Period is Now Open!

The application for the 2023 Build It Up Backyard Gardening Program is now open! The application will close on January 27th, 2023. There is a $15 application fee. If you cannot pay this, please email for a fee waiver form. Applications that pay the fee or turn in a fee waiver form will be given priority. This does not guarantee you a spot. 

Please note that Build It Up 2023 will be held in person. Sessions will be recorded and available for viewing by participants after each session. 

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.

Workshops will be held in person; virtual recordings of the sessions will be made available to participants as well.


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, are currently offered in person, and will also be available as recordings for those who are unable to attend in person. 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.