The Brookdale Resource Center is adding a new resource to feed hundreds of people fresh food from its backyard. Mayor Lester Miller, United Way of Central Georgia (UWCG), Bibb County School District, and the Bibb County Cooperative Extension held a news conference on Thursday, March 16 to make the special announcement. You can watch it here.
“This new initiative will change the way we feed people at Brookdale and provide educational opportunities for them and high school students, as well as volunteer opportunities for the community,” said Mayor Miller. “We believe this is just the start of something that will not only help people at Brookdale, but throughout the County.”
The goal is to start planting seeds in raised garden beds behind Brookdale April to grow food that will go directly into Brookdale’s kitchen. The Cooperative Extension has worked closely with Chef Stuart Hardy, Executive Chef Instructor for Compass Rose Café and Lead Instructor at Hutchings College and Career Academy, to see what can be grown to make nutritious meals for Brookdale residents.
“One of our goals is to promote health awareness among Brookdale residents and improve their overall quality of life. Bringing fresh fruits and vegetables straight from Brookdale’s garden to their plates is a great way to demonstrate how healthy eating can be a great start to a healthier lifestyle,” said UWCG President & CEO George McCanless.
This month, multiple agencies will build 49 raised beds that will be placed behind Brookdale. The wood for the boxes is being donated by Warren Associates, Inc., and students at Rutland High School are joining in the effort by helping build the raised beds the week after Spring Break.
“We’re excited to have our students participate in this project,” said Dr. Cassandra Miller-Washington Executive Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education and CEO of W.S. Hutchings College and Career Academy. “Students will improve academic skills such as math, science, communications, leadership, and management. We’re also encouraging all our student organizations, PTA, school district departments to come out and join us in this endeavor.”
Our Parks and Beautification Department has been working directly with the Bibb County GA Cooperative Extension to get the property ready for the beds. They’ve tested soil, removed weeds from the former court where the beds will go, brought in mulch and dirt, installed new irrigation, and more.
“I’ve been working with our Master Gardener Volunteers to plan the layout of the raised bed portion of The Gardens at Brookdale. By starting with this type of growing system insect, weed, and disease pressures will be minimized,” said Cooperative Extension County Extension Coordinator Karol Kelly. “We chose these fruits and vegetables not only for their nutritional value, but these will be crops that should be more popular choices with residents and easier for Brookdale nutrition staff to process.
The Gardens at Brookdale will be led by a part-time program assistant who will oversee, coordinate and expand our efforts. Support by community volunteers will be critical to make this project a success. As volunteers work in the garden, they will learn about growing their own food through their hands-on involvement.
The Georgia Farm Bureau also contributed by presenting UWCG with a $2,500 check to help buy tools and equipment needed for the gardening. These gardens will grow and thrive by volunteer work and donations.
If you would like to donate or volunteer, click here.