The Unity Garden continues to provide fresh produce for local food bank

Unity Garden staff work hard to maintain garden without volunteer support

By Tracy Begley, Website and Marketing Specialist, and Julie Hollingsworth-Hogg, Horticulture Manager

As CNC begins the process of reopening to the public, we are happy to have visitors back on the property. There were too many quiet days, and we have enjoyed hearing kids laughing and enjoying the grounds the past week. The ticketing and reservation system, plus operational changes, will allow us to provide an outdoor, natural area for our guests to enjoy and also feel like we are taking their health and safety into consideration.

During our closure we still had many things happening around the property. The Operations Department worked hard on improvement projects, such as replacing decking and painting all of the metal railings. The Wildlife Department is providing care for the 100 resident animals that you see on exhibit, and those used for educational purposes. The Horticulture Department is still maintaining the native gardens and greenhouses, and the Unity Garden continues to provide fresh produce to the North Fulton Community Charities on a weekly basis.

Operations at the CNC has 3 departments – Maintenance, Horticulture, and Wildlife, and all 3 departments rely upon weekly volunteers to help with various tasks that support our mission at the nature center. 

The Unity Garden has a group of dedicated volunteers that show up each week to help plant, weed, and harvest the 1/4 acre garden. In 2019 the horticulture department, which includes the Unity Garden, had 504 volunteers that provided 4,300 hours. The support of volunteers has been missed greatly. The largest obstacle over the last few months in the Unity Garden has been harvesting. It takes a considerable amount of time for Unity Garden Horticulturist, Christopher Horacek, to harvest alone each week, even with other horticulture staff helping him out.

I talked with Julie Hollingsworth-Hogg, Horticulture Manager, to find out what is currently happening in the Unity Garden.

What is being harvested right now?

The month of May will finish out the cool season crops. Lettuce, greens, carrots, and turnips will finish their growing and harvesting this month.

What is currently in the garden?

At this moment we still have lettuce, greens, carrots, turnips, radishes, and sugar snap peas, but the summer crops are going in. Tomatoes, peppers, carrots, green beans, eggplants, squash, and cucumbers have all been planted or will be going in soon.

How much has been harvested and donated to North Fulton Community Charities in 2020?

We have donated just over 1.5 tons of produce to North Fulton Community Charities to support their food bank for 2020. Last year we donated just over 4 tons. As you can imagine summer will produce larger harvests and donations, which is why it is so important right now to continue preparing the Unity Garden for summer crops even without the help of volunteers.

Just this last week Christopher took over 338 pounds of produce that included 5 varieties of lettuce, mustard greens, turnips, broccoli, and kale. North Fulton Community Charities is serving over 100 families right now. They supply food and personal needs and the families are very appreciative of the fresh produce, and the garden staff has planted specific crops to meet there preferences throughout the seasons.

Until we have volunteers return to the CNC the Horticulture Department and Unity Garden, staff will continue to take care of the garden and make sure that as the needs of families remain in Fulton County the Unity Garden at the Chattahoochee Nature Center will be there to provide fresh produce.

Want to learn more about the partnership between the Chattahoochee Nature Center and North Fulton Community Charities please visit the following:

CNC donates 340 lbs. to local food bank -April 15, 2020

CNC donates fresh produce to the NFCC food pantry – video