Fayette master gardeners contribute 88 percent of fresh produce to Atlanta food banks in 2010

Fayette master gardeners take a break during work in the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” garden that produced 23,024 pounds of food in 2010 to feed area families in need. From left are Tommy Waller, Vauna Bellury, Tom Wilson and Janet Lester. In the background is Fayetteville farmer Lester Bray, who was consultant on the project. Photo/Special.

Fayette County has become the breadbasket for Atlanta's hungry, according to a news release from the Fayette master gardeners organization.

Fayette County’s master gardeners have grown, harvested and contributed free of charge more than 86,000 pounds of fresh food to the Atlanta Food Bank, or nearly nine out every 10 pounds received by the Atlanta area campaign in 2010.

The total produce received from the entire Atlanta area campaign was 97,626 pounds, according to Fred Conrad, Community Garden coordinator of the Atlanta Food Bank, who reported on 2010 numbers of fresh food donated to area food banks, ministries and shelters.

Fayette County master gardeners were responsible for a majority of the total donations. They provided 23,024 pounds of harvested fresh food from their Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) garden located on the grounds of New Hope Baptist Church North Campus in Fayetteville.

The master gardeners also gleaned an additional 63,490 pounds of tomatoes and peaches from local growers that were picked and distributed throughout the county.

The total donation of produce by the Fayette County master gardeners was 86,490 pounds. Fayette master gardeners supplied 88.6 percent of the entire amount of fresh food the Atlanta area campaign received.

All the donated food went directly to local food banks and non-profit organizations to share with needy families during these challenging economic times.

“Some of the organizations we donate to indicate that during this tough economy more folks than ever are in need of help,” said Master Gardener Vauna Bellury. “Our fresh, locally-grown produce has been so helpful to provide nourishment for local families.”

Hundreds of hours were logged by master gardeners who donated their labor and mileage to the PAR garden in 2010. Special thanks go to the master gardeners who gave leadership to the PAR Garden: Art Ayers, Wayne King, Janet Lester, Dave Ray, Beth Richey, Tom Wilson, Dee Crowder, Don Adkins, Barry Braender, Valerie Morris and Vauna Bellury.

An accomplishment this significant takes a huge amount of work and the teamwork of many volunteers and groups. The Fayette County master gardeners want to thank Lester Bray of Fayetteville for his invaluable contribution as the project consultant and New Hope Baptist Church North Campus for the use of the site and water for the garden.

Other local individuals who helped make this project a huge success are: Becky and John Douville (equipment donation), Addison Lester (plowing and mulch-laying), Roy Scrogg and Ken Turner (mulch laying), Wendell Corley (donation of sweet potato slips and onions), Huie Bray (truck and gas) and Al Pearson of Pearson’s Farm and Russell Adams of Adams Farm for allowing the master gardeners to glean excess tomatoes and peaches.

The Fayette County Master Gardener Volunteer Program is an educational program offered through The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Fayette County. For more information about the master gardener program or the Plant a Row for the Hungry garden, call 770-305-5412.

Reported by Bonnie Helander, Fayette Master Gardener/Publicity

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Thank You

To all the people involved in this project ~ a big Thanks You.