By: Kathy Beck, Vice Chair of Farm/Garden/Education
Welcome Spring! Let the fun begin!
The farm survived the winter storms and wind but not without the lifting of a corner of the roof of the garage and
the loss of a huge tree that was uprooted behind the farmhouse and garage. Thankfully, there was no damage to the structures. The tin roof was able to be straightened and secured. Thank you to the Fannin County Board of Education Maintenance Department for your help with this. Some of the shingles of the shed were also raised but thankfully a volunteer was able to tack them back down. A new roof will need to be installed in the future, and we are exploring options.
Winter and early spring projects have kept things busy at the farm. New light fixtures were added in the farmhouse and installed by Blue Ridge Electric. Thanks to Gina Small for working with us on the installation.
The George Link Jr. Raised Beds Garden where we lease 22 beds to community residents received a little face lift: brush was trimmed, some old project remnants were removed and heavy landscape fabric was installed and gravel added to the walkways around the beds to help with weed control.
Volunteers mowed the winter rye cover crop planted last fall every few weeks throughout the winter/early spring months. We also tested the soil and ordered supplies.
We planned a layout for the Spring 2022 planting with crop rotation in mind, plowed under the winter rye with the tractor and marked the rows for the garden. Volunteers have been busy readying the infrastructure in the garden, installing tomato cages and fence grid. A supporter in the community and past volunteer donated 10 grow bags that will be planted as part of Ada Street Garden volunteer education. Straw bales planting is another experiment and education project that will be done this summer. Several new varieties of sweet potato plants that are more resistant to wetter summers and have less vines are also part of our research this summer. A report of all our research results will come later in the fall issue of the newsletter.
Thanks to the generosity of a Young Farmers member and new friend, Father Louis Guerin, Feed Fannin acquired many plant starts he grew in his hoop house in Mineral Bluff for the Ada Street farm, Faith Presbyterian Church and other partner gardens, as well as the Mittleider Garden. Some of Louis’ plants were also given to food pantry clients. He has offered to grow plants for Feed Fannin for 2023. He is such a blessing to be around, and I am grateful for his support of Feed Fannin.
By the time you read this newsletter, planting in the Feed Fannin Ada Street Garden, and Mittleider Research Garden will be mostly completed. Red potatoes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, spaghetti squash and yellow squash, eggplant,
onions, okra, corn, cilantro, parsley, dill, basil and oregano are planted and other cool crops will be added later in the year.
Faith Presbyterian Church, which partners with Feed Fannin by planting a vegetable garden and donating the food to the pantry and community projects, has also planted many of the crops listed. They are excited to have recently added a fence around their garden. We appreciate the partnership with Faith Garden and other individuals who plant-a-row and donate extra produce to the food pantry.
Keeping the grounds looking beautiful is a huge job, and I appreciate all the volunteers who assist with string trimming and any aspects of maintenance to the grounds. We receive frequent positive comments and appreciation from many in the education community and other people who visit the farm or pass by. Feed Fannin is fortunate to have the opportunity to use this beautiful property leased to us by the Board of Education. If you would like to join our volunteers in the garden and on the farm, our regular work schedule is 9 am to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Just stop on by!
Farm to Pantry produce deliveries from Old Dial Road Farm continued throughout the winter on Mondays with cool crop vegetables. It was nice on a recent Monday to set out the produce at the pantry and have a client get so excited to be given fresh turnip greens with turnips… “one of my favorite vegetables.” We get comments every week about the quality of fresh lettuces, greens and produce provided. Soon additional vegetables from our own garden will be added.
The owners of Old Dial Road Farm, Catherine and Jeff Morris, are so fantastic in their passion to grow organic produce. We are fortunate to have many local farmers who provide the community with fresh produce all summer.
Feed Fannin Chair Ron Ciochon and I recently attended a Food Summit with representatives from Family Connection, Snack in a Backpack, Faith Presbyterian Church, Temple Baptist Church, Cherry Log Christian Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, First Fruits, the Copper Basin Crisis Center, and those who help with providing and distributing food in our area. It was an opportunity to share information and learn how the groups can work together to better serve those in our community in need of food. Feed Fannin currently provides milk and eggs to First Fruits Food Ministry every two weeks.
Please see the box below for two new community/food outreach initiatives we have undertaken.
You will read elsewhere in this newsletter about our involvement with local schools and education organizations. I’ll just say here that I represented Feed Fannin at the Fannin County Ag Advisory Council Lunch Meeting on May 9. This is an opportunity for different groups to meet and interact with educators and others involved in promoting agriculture in the community, and Feed Fannin is honored to be included on the Fannin County Ag Advisory Council.
“One Community…One Spirit…in Partnership” is a great way to explain the first half of 2022. Feed Fannin is committed to growing our relationships in the community and local schools and organizations by continuing to support local youth and agriculture through school grants, scholarships and summer camp tuitions; by growing and purchasing produce for the Family Connection Food Pantry and by continuing to support local farmers and vendors through the purchase of supplemental produce throughout the year for different projects; and by partnering with churches and other groups who share our passion and the mission of feeding the hungry in our community.