Trash Plants: Gardening by the Community for the Community

story by GK Gurley | photos by Bliss

The year 2020 highlighted a multitude of racial barriers that exist throughout our society, and food security is a big one. Bliss (they/them), a non-binary Nashvillian who is a neurodivergent person of color, explained that they saw a way to create an organization to respond to this food insecurity. They named it ‘Bliss and The Trash Plants’.

Bliss and the Trash Plants is a local mutual aid organization. “It was created,” Bliss explained, “in solidarity with individuals – myself included– facing food insecurity. By the means of gleaning… the project can provide grocery and supply kits for the community.”

Gleaning is the practice of collecting excess fresh foods from various sources like farms, grocers, other redistributive resources, and/or restaurants. Bliss collects these to craft grocery and supply kits. Going a step further, Bliss also takes in various plants that have been discarded or deemed hopeless to foster their growth and find them a new home. They explained to me that this reduces waste and brings plants to people who have found gardening or plant-care expensive or inaccessible.

In their work, Bliss prioritizes queer, trans, black, and indigenous people of color. “In my experience,” Bliss shared, “I find BIPOC + QBIPOC + QTBIPOC like myself are struggling with food, housing, and financial security amidst a
society with a longstanding history of white supremacy.”

Bliss shared that, being someone without much of a family, their community fills that role for them. The tornado plus COVID-19 closures were the catalyst for Bliss to dedicate their time to getting this project going.

“There are so many resources in Nashville – as a community of organizations, individuals, businesses, and nonprofits – but people like myself who are low-income, non-able bodied, neurodivergent, creatives and activists, living with chronic pain, etc., have to work much harder to gain access and credibility.

“The hope with Bliss and the Trash Plants is that more people in the Nashville community will become familiar with the concept of mutual aid and form solidarity-based support to help individuals and families ensure they get their needs met as well as continue to push for equity, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves,” they said. Bliss saw a need they could meet being a person who has both experienced food scarcity and marginalization and being a person with immense love and knowledge of plants.

Since Bliss has such a green thumb, I asked them to give me and our readers some gardening advice. We talked about the variations of apartment and patio gardening, and they shared that they are stacking plants on plants in their space. “Whether you have an apartment, can only garden on your patio, have curious cats, or you hip-check everything in your house like I do – consider space saving with bookcases or shelves! I like to use clear furniture and light colours to accent the space without it seeming cluttered.” I also asked about ways to learn more about plants, and they said a great resource is the Planta app. Lastly, they said, “Before you start a gardening project and spend money, ask your friends about the items you need. You may be able to save by sourcing from people who may have too much of something.”

The communal aspect of Bliss’s work is crucial to their success. Bliss has accepted donations of fresh produce, bulk products, packaged and canned goods, indoor plants, garden supplies, masks, cleaning supplies, and first aid. If you are able to donate any of these or anything in-between, find and contact Bliss at blissandthetrashplants@ If you have what you think is a dying houseplant, send it to Bliss! They shared, “I love the feeling of sharing my plant finds and creating a little ‘family’. Being able to give plants a second chance, make plant joy a bit more financially accessible, and getting sent growth updates from friends is so rewarding.”

Bliss explained to me that their grocery delivery and plant rehabilitation is a starting point, they want to grow both in and out of Nashville, and they hope to see more community members get involved with them.

After working on this project for a few years, they are excited about taking the steps necessary to start a second branch in Atlanta this summer and finalizing their crew in Nashville. Might that be you?

Whether you need their services, have money to donate, resources and knowledge to share, or have goods to donate or deliver, follow them on Instagram. As Bliss said, “and really, who needs plant joy more than the QTBIPOC community?”