Urban Micro Farming with Midtown Bramble & Bloom

story by Mud | Photos by Chellie Bowman

At the start of 2021, Marisa Mender-Franklin posted on a local “Buy Nothing” Facebook group asking for available land in Midtown to start micro flower farms. Swiftly, around 40 plots of land were offered in response, and thus was the genesis of Midtown Bramble & Bloom. Her goal was to create a symbiotic relationship “tucked away in the backyards” of her Midtown community1. She offered regenerative and maintained flower gardens in exchange for paramount land.

Owner of Bramble & Bloom Marisa Mender-Franklin at her New York St garden

Currently, Midtown Bramble & Bloom manages and cultivates nine separate plots. Although there are a few properties with planter rows, most of the flowers are incorporated into garden beds that can be seen by pedestrians. You can take a stroll down New York St. in the Cooper Young neighborhood and see one yourself. For this particular garden, Marisa also had the opportunity to work with local muralist, Kristen Sandlin. The mural proudly states in blue hand lettering, “Memphis is Blooming.” By pairing flower gardens with public artwork, Midtown Bramble & Bloom is creating landmarks, visual cues to a beautiful relationship between community, ecosystem, and urban architecture.

Bramble & Bloom grows mostly native plants and around 40% perennials, more than your average flower farm. They’ve had a booth at the Cooper Young Farmers Market for three years and have consistently been there weekly for a year. They work year-round, with their peak seasons being spring, summer and fall. During these seasons, bouquet subscriptions (these are GREAT gift ideas, by the way!) are available with local delivery or through pickup at Urban Earth (80 Flicker St.). Urban Earth, a unique Midtown nursery, offered Bramble & Bloom one of their empty fridges for local customers to pick up bouquets. It got them more foot traffic and Marisa gained an additional space for transactions. It has also freed up precious time that can now be used to tend the gardens. In addition to individual flower arrangements, Bramble & Bloom also offers wedding and garden plot consultations, as well as workshops, such as wreath making in the winter, at Memphis Made Brewery (768 Cooper St.). In the coldest part of the year they are busy landscaping and building new beds for the upcoming growing season.

By emphasizing regenerative, sustainable, and organic farming processes, Bramble & Bloom creates synergy with the local community. The trade between available urban farm land offered by the community for maintained flower gardens goes to show that in Memphis, you really can “buy nothing.”

Follow Marisa on Instagram at @midtownbramble or visit her website at midtownbramble.com to learn more about her consultations, workshops, and bouquet subscriptions.

Kristen Sandlin’s mural outside of the New York Street garden

1 . “Midtown Bramble and Bloom.” Midtown Bramble & Bloom. Accessed June 12, 2023. midtownbramble.com.