Small Biz Superstar: Trap Garden's "Rob Veggies" is making healthy food more accessible for Nashville

Trap Garden is a nonprofit founded in Nashville by Robert "Rob Veggies" Horton to help make healthy food more accessible to Nashvillians.

Small Biz Superstar: Trap Garden

Why did you start Trap Garden?

Robert “Rob Veggies” Horton of Trap Garden.

Robert “Rob Veggies” Horton of Trap Garden.

My motivation for Trap Garden stemmed from me growing up in a food desert in St. Louis, Missouri and then experiencing the exact same issues after moving to Nashville for college.  As a student at Tennessee State University, I was frustrated with having to travel miles away from my home to shop at a grocery store with quality food. 

In Tennessee, one million residents, including more than two hundred thousand children, live in lower-income communities underserved by supermarkets (source: THE Food Trust). So, I decided to get people hooked on an amazing experience around fresh and healthy food to alleviate the issues faced in food sensitive communities.   It began with me growing my own vegetables and herbs and now it includes assisting others. I apply not only the community development lessons I learned in college and my past consulting career, but also the lessons I learned growing up in the streets of St. Louis and living in a food sensitive community.

What was your proudest moment at your company?

After months of efforts, Trap Garden launched a community garden in South Nashville with the help of local residents.  On the day of the garden launch, it was nearly 100 degrees outside and we had scheduled a community service event.  Because of the weather, we were not expecting many volunteers and even discussed rescheduling the event.  Collectively, we made the decision to move forward, despite the weather. To our surprise - over 100 volunteers showed up! 

This has been the proudest moment for me; we were working alongside community members and local businesses, universities, and organizations.  We are stronger and can accomplish much more for the community when we all work together.   

What was the first business you ever started?

Ironically, the first business I ever started was in elementary school selling candy to my classmates.  My close friend and I would purchase candy in bulk knowing that all students would not have time to stop by the candy store before school.  We would bag up different types of candy and sell to students throughout the day. 

What do you do to invest in our Nashville community? 

We work with communities, schools, and universities to create unique experiences centered around living a more sustainable lifestyle and promoting access to affordable, healthy food.  We have two educational community gardens that service South and North Nashville where we train youth and community members about gardening and healthy dieting.  In addition to these programs, our university partnerships help us to create a pipeline of future community leaders. 

What advice do you have for fellow Nashpreneurs? 

My advice for fellow Nashpreneurs would be to be patient and water the seeds that you have already planted.  I have often seen many entrepreneurs start a business, but quickly throw in the towel once they experience a roadblock or if it is not growing quickly enough. 

Like plants, we must remember to be patient and nurture our businesses.  Know that what you invest into your business may not produce fruit for years down the line. 

Why do you think the Nashville region is a great place to be a small business?

Nashville has a lot of resources and opportunities for those willing to put in the work and network.  As Nashville continues to grow, businesses have the opportunity to grow with the city.