Dirty to Delicious Education Program Funds Drive

by | Sep 2, 2016 | G.R.O.W Harrisburg

Augusta Locally Grown’s mission is to promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of growing, buying, cooking and enjoying sustainably-grown, whole foods. We achieve this through our Dirty to Delicious educational program.

Augusta Locally Grown started in 2008 as a truly grassroots effort to connect local farmers to local families. In 2011, the organization incorporated with this mission: to promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of growing, buying, cooking and enjoying sustainably-grown, whole foods.  To achieve our mission, our DIRTY TO DELICIOUS education program was designed to engage the community to create a more vibrant local food system throughout the Central Savannah River Area of Augusta, GA. We create and manage farmers markets, host farm tours, provide education for home gardening and healthy cooking, and increase access to wholesome fruits and vegetables for people in low-income communities. We connect local farmers to schools, hospitals and restaurants in an effort to keep food dollars in our community. We understand local agriculture to be foundational to the strength of our economy, the stewardship of our land, the health of our families, and the preservation of heritage traditions in Georgia.

One component of our educational program is G.R.O.W. Harrisburg, which stands for Growing Our Own Wellness.  It is a multi-partner, multi-program, volunteer effort. We seek to transform the struggling, low-income, inner-city neighborhood of Harrisburg from an unhealthy food desert into a healthy food destination. The goal is to alleviate diet-related illnesses and health disparities among neighborhood residents. We do this by engaging them in healthy food activities: growing real food, cooking real food, and eating real food.

G.R.O.W. Harrisburg currently has seven simultaneous projects running in the neighborhood, several supported by evidence-based research projects.

  1. VEGGIE TRUCK FARMERS MARKET – Now in its fourth year, this is the only all-local farmers market in Richmond County that also doubles EBT/SNAP/food stamps. 
  2. HUNDREDS IN HARRISBURG – This program installs raised beds for vegetable gardening at individuals’ homes, free of charge.  In 2015, we installed 100 4’x4’ raised beds at 31 individual homes throughout Harrisburg, free of charge to the residents.  In some cases, these are first-time gardeners. In other cases, these are elderly who have no other way to get supplies.  Each household receives the raised bed frame(s), filler soil, seasonal seedlings twice a year, and annual topping off of the soil, not to mention gardening mentors and tools where needed, such as garden hoses or watering cans.  Recipients use their beds for edible plants only, and we follow no-till, square-foot, organic practices as closely as possible.  In Spring 2016, we installed 50 additional beds, and we already have families on a waiting list for the Fall 2016 installation. Our plan is to reach 200 total beds by the end of 2016, and then to continue to install a total of 500 beds over 5 years. 
  3. FVRx-AUGUSTA – Our Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program entered its second year in 2016.  The program prescribes fresh fruits and vegetables to residents who are dealing with diet-related illnesses.  The prescription is taken to our Veggie Truck Farmers Market and each participant is able to take home locally-grown fruits and vegetables for his/her family, free of charge.  This is done in partnership with the Harrisburg Family Healthcare Clinic and Wholesome Wave Georgia.
  4. TEACHING GARDENS & SHARED GREENHOUSE – This initiative includes several teaching gardens and a greenhouse where people come to grow seedlings at Icebox Urban Farm.
  5. TEACHING KITCHENS & SCHOOL LUNCH-MAKING PROGRAM – At neighborhood teaching kitchens, our partners instruct classes for the FVRx program and a school lunch-making program.
  6. PLANT-BASED COMMUNITY MEALS – We host four free, veggie-centered community meals each year. These are beautiful farm-to-tables dinner, healthy and elegant, shared by people of all income levels and backgrounds.
  7. VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS – Perhaps our most challenging initiative is engaging hundreds of volunteers who come our way: youth groups, corporate groups, congregations, students, clubs, and, of course, gardeners.  

Here is what some of the participants in our Hundreds in Harrisburg raised garden bed initiative had to say recently:  

“Lately being in my garden has been my anchor to reality. I have had so much pleasure from my little plot of dirt….”

“I’m so grateful for my garden. It has helped me in so many ways. Being a single parent is not easy, and sometimes with it comes stress and depression. The garden not only helps with fruits & veggies, but also with meditation and spiritual growth. I love it. Thank you so much. It’s a wonderful program.” – Lucy

“In my retirement, I needed to get outside and do something productive. The garden is that.” – James

“The benefit to me is that I get to create something for the kids in the community.” – Henry

We want to continue to inspire people of all ages and background to get out and “grow their own.”  As a grassroots organization, we succeed because of our volunteers, our partnerships, and people like you. Your donation today will further our educational efforts and give us the freedom to G.R.O.W