Joey Lankford, Franklin High School alumni and Brentwood resident, was living the American dream with his family.
Lankford was the CEO of his family’s business, had a home in Brentwood and a beautiful family. But it wasn’t enough. After some soul searching, the Lankford family embarked on a five-year journey to a life of service in Cape Town, Africa.
“Living Hope,” a recently released documentary, follows the family’s journey as they set out to begin a food program in Africa. The idea was to grow produce, supply jobs to locals, and sell their produce to help provide income to their workers.
Lankford admitted there were trials and difficult times, but said the family was changed from their experience. They adopted their fourth child, Bristol, from Ethiopia just months before leaving for Africa and had a biological child while they were there. Lankford talked about how the culture moves at a much slower pace in Africa and how they were able to spend a lot of time together as a family.
So, after so much time away, how is the family now?
“We have been back in Brentwood for almost 18 months,” Lankford said. “Our children are doing great and are enrolled in Williamson County Schools, it’s as if they didn’t miss a beat.”
Today, Lankford continues to run a food program, but this time in his own backyard.
“When we decided it was time to move back, we wanted to give back so we started Cul2vate,” he said.
The pillars of Cul2vate are simple. If they grow two tomatoes, they will sell one and give one away.
“Believe it or not, there are hungry people who live right here in Williamson County,” Lankford said.
The second pillar creates an opportunity for future full-time employment for farmers by providing much-needed life skills and business skills training. These property sites are the training grounds for those who want to break the generational cycle of poverty by learning to feed themselves and others through agriculture and employment.
Currently, Cul2vate utilizes space at Ellington Agricultural Center and another plot in Franklin on Academy Drive. To date, they have donated 4,000 pounds of food that was distributed through One Gen Away, GraceWorks and Nashville Food Project. They have partnered with three local restaurants that purchase their local produce: Amerigo’s in Brentwood, Green Hills Grille and Subculture Urban Cafe.
You can purchase Cul2vate produce on Mondays at The Carpenter’s Square Farmer’s Market from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 3016 Nolensville Pike in Nashville. On Thursdays, you can find Cul2vate at Farmin’ in the Hall at Crievewood United Methodist Church from 4:30-7 p.m.