The “Feed Fannin/Barbara Ferer Research & Demonstration Garden” opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the unveiling of a sign on Aug. 8 next to the Fannin County Family Connection Food Pantry in Blue Ridge.
The Research & Demonstration Garden was made possible through a grant from The George Link Jr. Charitable Trust. As its inaugural project, the garden incorporated the “Mittleider method,” which produces higher yields with less water in a smaller space than the standard garden.
In 2009, Feed Fannin founder Barbara Ferer led the creation of the Feed Fannin Community Garden, now located on Ada Street in Blue Ridge, on land made possible through a partnership with the Fannin County Board of Education. That garden supplies the Food Pantry with thousands of pounds of fresh, nutritious produce each year, thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated Feed Fannin volunteers.
“Once the main garden was well established and successful in its mission, I began thinking of developing new and progressive methods of raising food in small home gardens,” Ferer said. Her most recent effort to promote more sustainable gardens led her and Feed Fannin volunteers Ken Banwart and Chuck Haines to research and pursue the Mittleider method as their first experimental project in the new Research & Demonstration Garden.
A committee of several Feed Fannin members will be exploring other alternative gardening methods. “Demonstration garden spaces using a variety of progressive, environmentally-sound and economically-practical methods will be started,” said Feed Fannin Chair John Sugg. Members of the community will be invited to observe and encouraged to learn about the different methods to determine which approach would best suit their terrain, level of interest and their budgets.
“We also welcome new ideas from the community to identify small-space gardening methods to test in the Research & Demonstration Garden,” added Sugg.
There will be workshops about growing food, many in partnership with schools, related organizations and agencies, hosted in the Family Connection conference room. In addition, Feed Fannin will hold building and planting demonstrations, and workdays focused on small-space gardening to engage members of the community in fun and practical ways to “grow your own garden” in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia.
As is the case with the primary garden on Ada Street, all the produce grown by Feed Fannin volunteers in the new gardens will be donated to the Food Pantry. The long-time support of the Fannin County Family Connection is a major factor in the success of the joint effort with Feed Fannin to operate the Food Pantry housed in their building, which serves thousands of families and individuals in need each year in our area.
“We are grateful to The George Link, Jr. Charitable Trust for their support of Feed Fannin’s efforts to provide nutritious food and fresh produce to those in need in our community and to share knowledge about sustainable gardening methods suitable for our area,” said Sugg.