Did you know there are hungry people living in North Fulton? Every day, the North Fulton Community Charities helps needy families with emergency financial assistance, advice or food. In 2015 they provided $1,314,039 in emergency financial assistance, provided food 18,883 times, helped 1,137 adults with workforce readiness and life skills, and kept 2,446 families in their homes.
CNC contributes to this great and continual effort. Every year, the Unity Garden grows produce for the NFCC food pantry. This year, 2016, has provided a record harvest, said CNC Unity Garden Coordinator Tricia Nitti. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 22, CNC was been able to donate 10,166 lbs (over 5 tons) of fresh produce to North Fulton Community Charities.
Just in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Nitti said the garden has produced 481 lbs of food to make for a fantastic Thanksgiving feast for NFCC families.
“We are so grateful to CNC Unity Garden as our families are,” said NFCC Food Pantry Manager Melody Fortin. “The garden supplies us with a wide assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs all year. Right now we have beautiful collard greens, five different types of kale, green beans, peppers, and nine different types of herbs that they brought in today.”
Fortin said the NFCC food pantry sees about 100 families a day, which makes for quick turnover in the crops grown – they go out almost as fast as they can be stocked.
Eating locally-grown food has many benefits.
By growing food in your backyard you can monitor how organic you want it to be. With food at the grocery store, you never know what you’re getting, even if it says it’s organic. And being truly farm-to-table, the food tastes better. There are higher nutrients in these crops that are lost in shipping to stores, a process that can take weeks.
The Unity Garden at CNC was established in April 2010 with a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente. The quarter-acre garden has three goals: Production, Donation and Education. Throughout the year, school groups get to see first-hand how their food is grown. For many, this is the first time they have seen crops they eat all the time.
Volunteers tend to the garden, and Nitti said an increase in volunteer numbers and hours have contributed to the record harvest.
“Regular volunteers have been attending both Tuesday and Wednesday sessions, special Friday and Saturday work days have allowed Corporate and Civic volunteer groups to participate greater, and the weather has been ideal for optimum growth and extended growing potential,” Nitti said.
“Thank you to all who have made this a banner year in Unity Garden! We will continue to provide our community with fresh produce throughout the winter and hopefully make an impact in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”
The Mission of the Chattahoochee Nature Center is to connect people with nature. Learn more at www.chattnaturecenter.org.