We are expanding our community garden into a community farm and mobile farmers market in 2019! Lots of folks heard about our plans for a new farm program in the newspaper or when we received a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Rome. Here’s a quick update on what’s going on.
South Meadows Farm
We are starting a 2-acre vegetable farm called South Meadows Farm. We have partnered with South Rome Redevelopment Corporation, who is letting us use the 2-acre property off Pollock St in South Rome free of charge. Emmie Cornell, our wonderful Community Garden Manager, is leading the farm. The farm will grow produce for the kitchens at the shelters, the Bagwell Food Pantry, and for sale to the public. The farm will also employ shelter guests for 3 month intervals, providing transitional employment and job skills.
The Farm Bus
We will also be selling produce from our farm and other local farms on our new Farm Bus. St. Mary’s School donated a 15-passenger bus, and the Creative Innovations Lab at Berry College remodeled the bus into a mobile farmers market. The Farm Bus will be at several different locations around Rome every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon starting this summer. So far the bus will sell at Darlington School, St. Mary’s School, North Broad Youth Center, Trinity United Methodist, and Shorter Avenue Baptist, with a few more locations being finalized.
The Farm Bus has also partnered with Wholesome Wave Georgia’s Fresh for Less program to double SNAP/food stamp dollars. That means a customer with SNAP can spend $10 from their EBT card and receive $20 of produce from the Farm Bus. Through this partnership, the Farm Bus will provide income to the shelter, job skills for our guests, and access to healthy produce for families struggling with food insecurity.
Work is Progressing
So, what’s happening? The wet winter has slowed down progress at the farm. That being said, we are moving forward with spring! Students from the Floyd County College and Career Academy’s Horticulture program are constructing a 30′ x 100′ greenhouse this week and next week. A storage shed has arrived just in time to secure our 2-wheel tractor arriving in a few weeks. We’ve started and ordered tons of plants and expect to break ground in the next few weeks.
This is a big, ambitious program that we think will bear great fruit (pun intended) for the shelter and the community in coming years. Over the next few months we’ll need lots of volunteer help to get the farm off the ground. Please reach out if you’d like to help!