In its backyard, Brookdale Resource Center is adding a new resource that will feed hundreds of people fresh food. This special announcement was made at a press conference held by Mayor Lester Miller, United Way of Central Georgia (UWCG), Bibb County School District, and Bibb County Cooperative Extension on Thursday, March 16. You can watch it here.
“This new initiative will change the way we feed people at Brookdale and provide educational opportunities for them and high school students, as well as volunteer opportunities for the community,” said Mayor Miller. “We believe this is just the start of something that will not only help people at Brookdale, but throughout the County.”
In April, seeds will be planted in raised garden beds behind Brookdale to grow food for Brookdale's kitchen. In order to provide nutritious meals for Brookdale residents, the Cooperative Extension has worked closely with Chef Stuart Hardy, Executive Chef Instructor for Compass Rose Café and Lead Instructor at Hutchings College and Career Academy.
“One of our goals is to promote health awareness among Brookdale residents and improve their overall quality of life. Bringing fresh fruits and vegetables straight from Brookdale’s garden to their plates is a great way to demonstrate how healthy eating can be a great start to a healthier lifestyle,” said UWCG President & CEO George McCanless.
There will be 49 raised beds built behind Brookdale this month by multiple agencies. Students from Rutland High School will help build the raised beds after Spring Break with wood donated by Warren Associates, Inc.
“We’re excited to have our students participate in this project,” said Dr. Cassandra Miller-Washington Executive Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education and CEO of W.S. Hutchings College and Career Academy. “Students will improve academic skills such as math, science, communications, leadership, and management. We’re also encouraging all our student organizations, PTA, school district departments to come out and join us in this endeavor.”
To prepare the property for the beds, the Macon-Bibb County Parks and Beautification Department has been working closely with the Bibb County GA Cooperative Extension. They've tested the soil, removed weeds from the former court, brought in mulch and dirt, installed new irrigation, and more.
“I’ve been working with our Master Gardener Volunteers to plan the layout of the raised bed portion of The Gardens at Brookdale. By starting with this type of growing system insect, weed, and disease pressures will be minimized,” said Cooperative Extension County Extension Coordinator Karol Kelly. “We chose these fruits and vegetables not only for their nutritional value, but these will be crops that should be more popular choices with residents and easier for Brookdale nutrition staff to process.
A part-time program assistant will oversee, coordinate, and expand the Gardens at Brookdale. The success of this project will depend on the support of the community. With their hands-on involvement, volunteers will learn about growing their own food.
UWCG was also presented with a $2,500 check by the Georgia Farm Bureau to be used towards gardening tools and equipment. Through volunteer work and donations, these gardens will grow and thrive.
If you would like to donate or volunteer, click here.