In March of 2020, just before we entered the uncharted territory of life in a pandemic, Arkwings received an Herban Renewal Grant from the Memphis Herb Society to support a project we called, simply, our Herb Spiral at our location on James Road in Frayser.. We could not have foreseen the obstacles or the amazing opportunities for growth that we would encounter, but we are finally seeing the fruits of our efforts with a crazy-successful growing season!

Things didn’t happen according to plan; in fact, the concept actually grew in scope as a result of some happy little accidents that came with the new COVID landscape. The first unexpected blessing came in the form of 7 raised beds (with irrigation!) donated by Big Green Memphis, making it possible for us to start our plantings even before we had the manpower and resources to build the foundation and structure for the Herb Spiral. These beds became the site of our new, ever-evolving Healing Art+Garden, with space for safe social distancing as we added soil and began planting.

We invited the community to sign up for individual times to come out and choose what they wanted to plant in this new learning space. To our delight, many of those who responded were local artisans, interested in cultivating herbs for their soaps, candles, teas, steams, and other handmade items. They typically order herbs online, but their products are spiritual and personal, so they were eager for the opportunity to grow their own fresh ingredients. They showed up and showed out, shoveling two truckloads of dirt into those beds, starting seeds and cuttings, and nurturing our little beds into a thriving garden! 

It was summertime before we were able to gather enough stones to lay the foundation for our long-anticipated Herb Spiral, but we finally have our structure in place, with just one obstacle in the way of putting in plants. It is MUCH too hot to uproot our beautiful herbs right now, so we’ll wait until fall weather before we move them into their new digs. This works out perfectly, as we’ll be ready to transplant our fall “crops” into the spaces the herbs will leave behind.

We currently have a variety of herbs mixed in with our summer veggies and a few flowers. There are lots of lavender (3 or 4 varieties, at least), several types of mint (soon to be re-homed into creatively-repurposed tire sculptures), lemongrass, oregano, sage, bee balm, lemon balm, chamomile, fennel, cilantro, and enough basil to keep us all stocked with pesto for the winter. Since there were children involved, and none of us are expert gardeners, there are also some mystery plants. We are eager to see what they become as the season goes on!

The Herban Renewal grant that MHS provided was an important kick-starter for this endeavor. We started with a little idea, but we weren’t sure how much impact an herb spiral might have in our community. With your show of support, we ran with our idea and are seeing it blossom into a grander plan than we ever imagined. We’d love to show you our Art+Garden (and our indoor gallery and program space), and we welcome you to join us for programs and/or to volunteer with us.

Jana Wilson


Find us at:
FB: ArkwingsIG: ArkwingsFoundation 

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