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Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, Georgia

The Flint River SWCD assisted with the installation of 15 teaching gardens at 14 elementary schools and one middle school including planting strawberries, spinach, collards, kale, romaine lettuce, onions and broccoli. An outdoor classroom featuring a butterfly garden, vermi-composting system, rain barrel catchment system and raised garden beds was created in Flint Riverquarium for education programs.

A garden-to-cafeteria program was developed to make a connection between the fresh produce that the students grew in the school garden to the salad bars in the lunch cafeteria. Romaine lettuce, swiss chard, kale, spinach and salad mix were harvested at two elementary schools and one middle school.

Locally-grown produce is delivered to a Farm-To-Table pick up location.

Four community gardens were installed in partnership with Georgia Department of Health’s Southwest District and the city of Albany’s Parks & Recreation Department as a part of their “Pick It, Try It, and Like It” program. It introduces different varieties of fruits and vegetables for monthly nutrition classes.

The district hosted “Grow Your Groceries” workshops at local business such as yoga studios, garden centers, churches and community centers. The workshop is an introduction to organic, raised bed food gardening. It involved picking a site, garden bed types, the value of good soil, seasonal varieties, watering, pests, harvesting and all the basics for growing food.

Local farms (Hopkins Farms–Cairo, Ga.; Southern Valley–Norman Park, Ga.; Evergreen Produce–Adel, Ga.; Lewis Taylor Farm–Ty Ty, Ga.) cooperated in the creation of weekly Farm-to-Table box programs featuring locally-grown fruits and veggies from family farms located less than 100 miles from Albany in the distribution of over 1500 weekly boxes to local businesses, schools, health centers, churches and individuals.

District staff were interviewed multiple times by WALB, the local ABC and NBC affiliate, and the program was featured on the front cover of the Albany Chamber of Commerce magazine.

Students and UGA Master Gardeners planting strawberries at one of the teaching gardens.

Sustainability

The district formed Flint River Fresh, a 501(c)(3) organization in the city of Albany that aims to make fresh, locally-grown produce accessible and affordable for people throughout the Flint River Region. The vision is to transform the way people see their neighborhoods by becoming stewards of the land and improving the quality of life by having access to fresh food. The goal is to develop simple, accessible and effective methods that can be duplicated in other neighborhoods in the South, engaging youth and adults to become agents of change through agriculture.

Transformation methods focus on the installation or revitalization of community gardens and creating opportunities for local family farms to get their produce directly to consumer via mobile farmers market, farm-to-table, farm-to-work and farm-to-school programs.

This mission will be accomplished by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground active demonstrations, outreach and technical assistance with the goal of developing Mini-Community Food Hubs throughout the Flint River Region in Southwest Georgia.

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