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Showing posts from January, 2010

"Food Pantry Has Fresh Mission" - Tallahassee Democrat

"On the corner of Meridian and John Knox roads, manna doesn't fall from the sky.

But on the third Saturday of the month, upwards of 65 bags of groceries might fly out the door bringing sustenance to those in need, no questions asked.

Faith Presbyterian Church and St. Stephen Lutheran Church, which are literally a stone's throw away from each other, have dubbed their food pantry Manna on Meridian in the hope that other churches and individuals might join them. They opened a week ago.

In addition to canned goods, cereals, pastas, peanut butter and spaghetti sauce typical of many pantries, the churches plan to provide fresh produce from their two gardens. Nathan Ballentine, who oversees the one at Faith Presbyterian, hopes they will inspire other gardeners in the area to donate their surplus crops.

"People who are struggling can only afford low-end stuff like canned and dry goods … and don't get the nice crisp crunch of something fresh," he said. "We want to…

Other Food Gardeners

Turns out there are lots more folks doing food gardening around the country-- and even around the southeast-- than myself.  I'll keep adding to this list as I discover more food garden entrepreneurs.  For now, this is who I've found:

Rashid Nuri with Truly Living Well Farms in Atlanta
I met this guy during my stay in Atlanta January, '10.  He farms stray pieces of land, say, adjacent to an apartment complex.  He'll approach the ownership and ask, "If I clean up that kudzu over there, can I farm on that half acre?"  He's currently got three plots around southside Atlanta and it working on securing a fourth.  He also does food garden consultations, edible landscapes and raised-bed installations.  "There's a spiritual side to this work," Rashid told me, "I concentrate building the soil, and I let God grow the food."

Farmer D in Atlanta
I heard a lot about this guy and his business while at the American Community Gardening Association &q…

Kids Food Garden Workshops

3-4pm, Sat., February 13th, March 13th, April 10th, and May 22nd
(Mostly) in the Garden at the Pink House, 1920 Chowkeebin Nene
with Nathan Ballentine, aka the Man in Overalls (

Are your kids full of questions?  Why this and why that?  Do your kids like playing in the dirt?  Do they like playing with worms and bugs? Do you wish they'd eat more vegetables?  Do you wish they'd learn where their food comes from?  Are they up for the challenge of starting their own vegetable garden?

Starting in February, we'll construct, fill and plant a raised bed full of seasonally appropriate vegetables.  Over the course of four months, we'll build, fill, and plant a raised-vegetable garden; plant some more, mulch, troubleshoot pests and sick plants; and finally, with help we'll, pick, cook, and eat vegetables.  Every month when we re-group, we'll start the morning by sharing stories from our own gardens, asking questions, and tasting what's ava…

Introducing Man in Overalls

Aka Nathan Ballentine

Part Food Gardener, Part Educator, Part Community Food Organizer, I'm available for hire and service.  From creating raised vegetable gardens, planting fruit trees and herb gardens; to supporting community gardens, hosting gardening workshops, and volunteering and fundraising for local non-profits, I am engaged in food gardening social entrepreneurship. Please let me know if I can be of help.

ManInOveralls at gmail dot com

I've been food gardening since eight when my mother set me on a vegetable garden as a homeschooling project.  Years later, just before leaving town after graduating from high school to attend college out of state, I began experimenting with fruit trees.  Then, throughout my studies in community organizing and social movements at Warren Wilson college, I managed an edible landscape complete with vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and medicinals as part of my alma mater's student work requirement.  Additionally during my time at Warren …

Atlanta Community Garden and Urban Ag Visit

Whew, what a couple days in Atlanta!  And, who knew such incredible Community Gardening and Urban Agriculture work was going on here in Metro Atlanta?!  I remain impressed.

Here are the gardens, farms, folks, and programs that I visited in the past 48 hours (in chronological order).  Links route to the garden/farm website, listing on the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) website, or to an article that references said garden or farm.

Blue Heron Community Garden

Good Shepherd Community Church Community Garden/Urban Farm

Sister DeBorah Williams at Mother Clyde Memorial West End Community Garden

Rashid Nuri at Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farm

Decatur High School Community Garden

Oakhurst Community Garden

Scott Park Community Garden

Bobby Wilson,  Atlanta Urban Gardening Program Coodinator and President of the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA)

Fred Conrad, Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) Community Garden Program Coordinator

Martha Gross, Community Garden/ Foo…

The Chamber...

When you stop by the Chamber of Commerce to brainstorm about "How to take your business to the next level" and the Senior Vice President remembers seeing you beside Thomasville Rd with a sign that says, "Grow Your Own Food and Share It," you can't help but smile.

Wintertime and the Living is... Freezing

Wind, ice, chance of snow, and I'm headed north.  Brrr.

This coming week, I'll be making a run to Atlanta in my little-truck-that-could for a community garden educational trip.*  While in Atlanta, I plant to a) visit metro-area community gardens, b) attend a "Train the Trainer" workshop co-hosted by the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) and the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), and, last, c) I'll meet with Fred Conrad, Community Garden Coordinator for the Food Bank.

The training, I'm especially excited about because 40-70 other community gardening activists from all over the southeast will be in attendance.  I anticipate it will be a great chance to share stories, questions, challenges and successes.  As I continue volunteering with Damayan and supporting Assistant City Manager, Jay Townsend's office in investigating the possibilities of community gardens on city land, time and time again I am reminded that having locally accessible commun…

Links and Videos Worth Noting

Revive the Victory Garden
In 1943, Americans planted over 20 million Victory Gardens, and the harvest accounted for nearly a third of all the vegetables consumed in the country that year. Emphasis was placed on making gardening a family or community effort -- not a drudgery, but a pastime...

History of Food Gardening at the Whitehouse

Teens 4 Good
An innovative entrepreneurship program that revolves around a youth-led urban agriculture business. Amazing. "Started in 2005, Teens 4 Good has helped transform many neighborhoods in the Greater Philadelphia area by providing local food that tastes better, is better for the environment, and helps to stimulate our local economy."

Growing Healthy Kids
The nonprofit has established a goal of planting 200 gardens with children by March 2010. The program will target children ages 8 to 12, as research suggests children who plant and tend a garden are more likely to consume its vegetables. You can also take a look at their blog.

Palm Bay, FL…

A New Year for Food Gardening

What do Tom Cruise, Angelina, Brittany, and Tiger Woods have to do with Food Gardening? Well...

Last week, I read a fascinating article in Newsweek entitled, "Celebrity: the Greatest Show on Earth." The interesting part is the author's argument that "celebrity"-- as a form of art, not the celebrities themselves, per say-- provides the national community with something to rally around, talk about, and relate with. In the midst of a social environ where politics are taboo and TV, movies and book readership are not as ubiquitous as they once were, "celebrity" provides narratives around which we can find common "experience."

It's an interesting argument, and it seems to ring true with what I see as I run around in overalls. As the author writes, "Celebrity is one of the few things that still crosses all lines. As disparate and stratified as Americans are, practically all of them seem to share an intense engagement, or at the very le…