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Ijams team and volunteers to improve part of historical East Knoxville cemetery

On Saturday, Ijams' Natural Resource Team and several volunteers will spend time improving Eastport Cemetery.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A historic cemetery in Knoxville may not look like much, but its significance in the community is far-reaching.

Around 5,000 graves are in the Eastport Cemetery in East Knoxville, according to estimates from officials. Among them are prominent members of Knoxville's Black community. It was founded in 1836 and is the city's oldest Black cemetery.

Officials said over time it became overgrown, neglected and forgotten. But on Saturday, the Ijams Nature Center's Natural Resource Team will join forces with around a dozen Weed Warriors volunteers to restore it. The clean-up and restoration start at 9:30 a.m. and will last until 12:30 p.m.

It will be the second Weed Warriors workday at the cemetery, according to officials. The group is meant to give volunteers hands-on experience with techniques to remove invasive species. It is also meant to help them learn about invasive plants generally.

The process to restore the cemetery started in April when a family member of people buried there reached out for help with the overgrowth.

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