Community garden volunteers work to combat food desert

Community

Augusta, GA (WJBF)- A local volunteer is working to help combat the food desert in downtown Augusta.

People living in downtown Augusta have to travel to other parts of the city or to North Augusta for fresh produce.

But Christina Berkshire is doing her part to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the area.

She’s the volunteer coordinator for the Olde Towne Community Garden. The lack of volunteers during the pandemic caused the garden to become over grown.

So, she and a group of neighborhood volunteers cleaned it up. And, they got donations to plant vegetables and some flowers.

“I tried to keep it pretty local to the neighborhood. We have one woman from Harrisburg but it’s really convenient for her to come down. I got about 5 people to meet in early March. and we pooled our resources together and First Pres matched a donation to get us soil from Bricko Farms. And we just planted all or our tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers this last couple weeks.”

The Community Garden was started by First Presbyterian Church of Augusta.

Luke Niday, assistant pastor at the church, said they bought the land years ago, knocked down the house siting on it, and turned it into a community garden. He said the community didn’t do much with it until Berkshire asked about it last year. He credits her with bringing it back to life.

Niday also said they planted fruit trees instead of ornamental ones because it makes more sense to have fruit tree to help feed people in the neighborhood, than just something pretty to look at.

Berkshire said community gardens like this can be vital to people living in a food desert.

“We’re working with a very small space, but I do see potential for people who…even landlords with larger plots to put in market gardens. You know anything that could be a regular stand on a Saturday or Sunday. It could be just so vital to just pull from your neighbors and be able to support them and their efforts. And they might not even have to work a full time job because they’re busy providing to the neighborhood.”

Once those fruits and vegetables are ready to be harvested, they will be given, for free or for donations, to those who live in the neighborhood but don’t have easy access to fresh food.

Anyone interesting in helping in the garden should contact First Presbyterian Church of Augusta at (706) 262-8900. They will put you in contact with Berkshire. 

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