Sometimes I feel like a broken record. Nonetheless, I'm going to say it again: there is SO much good work being done locally as it relates to the food movement, as it relates to building a resilient community-based food system*. When I consider highlighting great work and to whom to offer thanks, I am often at a loss because I don't know where to start.
Allow me to chronicle the list by memory and dates as I've encountered the food movement recently.
April 13th, I met with Betsy Henderson at her Dunn Street property (currently a vacant lot); she dreams of a thriving French Town Community Garden that involves both young and old, hosts community food workshops, provides space to local churches to raise food for the hungry, and hosts periodic cook outs where neighbors can meet neighbors.
April 14th, via the coordination of Ms Miaisha Mitchell of the Frenchtown Revitilization Council and Harriette Hudson with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, I conducted a workshop at TMH with Health Ministry leaders from area churches interested in investigating the potential of starting church gardens.
That weekend, Esposito Garden Center hosted me for a Food Gardening 101 workshop. Later in the day, I attended Damayan's Shakespeare Garden celebration at Lichgate. Later that evening, I attended the Red Hills Small Farms Alliance Kick Off at Turkey Hill Farm where they announced the launch of the Red Hills Online Farmers Market, which greatly facilitates the purchase and sale of local food-- likely to take our local food distribution system to the next level.
Havana Community Gardens for the 2nd Annual Community Garden Gathering of the Big Bend where folks heard how the Havana gardens got started, shared ideas, stories and lunch. Additionally, Damon Miller, coordinator of the FAMU Community Garden reported on their 79 plots on Orange Ave, and invited everyone out for the FAMU C.G. Open House on May 28th. Thanks to Jennifer Taylor of the FAMU Small Farms program, Miaisha Mitchell with the Frenchtown Revitalization Council and the Havana community gardeners for co-organizing this event with me. Here's a couple pictures:
The last week in April, FBMC launched (to my knowledge) the first company food garden in town. I hear the Florida Commerce Credit Union is also discussing the possibility.
Over the course of late April and Early May, Working Well, Crawfordville Elementary, and New St Johns AME church hosted me for gardening workshops. Can I mention that at Crawfordville, little miss Madison- known as the "class priss"- helped me out with my presentation by walking around with worms in her hands to accentuate my discussion about soil micro organisms? Can I also mention that all 285 kids that cycled through my workshop space got their hands in the compost, planted a green bean seed, and pretended to make it rain by snapping, clapping, stomping and "thundering"? And later, that they pretended to eat a giant bowl of vegetables like "Vegetable Monsters" akin to the Cookie Monster? Here's a few pictures.
Did I mention that the Crawfordville Elementary workshops took place immediately adjacent to their beautiful school garden? There's one 4'x16' raised bed for each grade level. Just wonderful:
Sat, May 7th, Fort Braden Community Garden hosted visitors for their Open House. Their garden is awesome! With (40) 15'x15' plots, their entire garden is 100'x200'. From the community feel to the deer fence, the information kiosk to the tidy pathways between all their beds, the Fort Braden Community Garden is a sight to see. Sarah Smith and Dave Watkins, gardeners, shared, "Our meetings always turn into idea sharing sessions where we report our our different experiments and teach each other about things like how to avoid using chemicals." This simple story in itself is enough to cause me to sing Fort Braden's praises. What a learning space! Here are a few pictures:
Saturday, May 14th, SouthWood will break ground on their Community Garden, approved for Town Center, across from Early's. Take a look at their snazzy flier:
To wrap up, again I'll say: "There's a lot going on." What I've reported hardly comes close to giving a full picture of the Tallahassee-area food movement. Just Saturday at Fort Braden, I met a man named George with aspirations to start an agricultural rehab center. There's talk of--and a proposed design for-- a Frenchtown-based urban agriculture job-training/re-entry program for women incarcerated at FCI Women's Prison who will soon re-join the community. I hear there are new gardens getting started at Killarn Lakes Elementary and Kate Sullivan; a group of high schoolers in Frenchtown will soon start a food gardening entrepreneurship program; the Social Work grad students at FAMU are starting a youth gardening program; folks in Indianhead Acres are brainstorming with Hartsfield Elementary about how neighbors might could supplement the cafeteria fare with homegrown produce. The examples are endless. The local food movement is rising.
*Resilient Community Based Food Systems: community and church gardens, a local food industry of thriving local farms and busy farmers' markets, retailers that emphasize healthy and local options, CSAs, cooperatively organized local growers, school gardens, company gardens, countless home gardening workshops and classes, city farms, innovative urban agricultural demonstrations, food security efforts that address quality, backyard and industrial scaled compost operations, seed saving, food prep education, etc. You know the list.