What brings together caterpillars, community members, the rain, rabbits, students, and the sun? The Oglethorpe University-Brookhaven Community Garden—which produces more than 100 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables every year. Students, faculty, staff, and tours walk by it every day and might not know it is there or that volunteers plant, water, and harvest fruits and vegetables for a local community food pantry.
The garden is a collaboration between OU, Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church (OPC), Brookhaven Christian Church (BCC), and St. Martin’s Episcopal School (SMES). The mission of the Community Garden is to bring together the University, the Brookhaven community, and committed friends to develop a vegetable garden for the production of locally grown, locally distributed, healthy products that feed those in need and heighten the awareness and appreciation of and commitment to living in harmony with our environment and as a community.
The garden is located on land that formally was home to the Oglethorpe pool behind the Emerson Student Center. The pool shed now holds garden supplies and the remaining parts of the fence hold up hand painted signs made by students during the 2009 OU Day of Service. The building materials for the garden were donated by Davis Landscape, a local landscape company whose Executive Vice President, Chris Astley, once worked in the Admission Office during the summer between school semesters. With the help, advice, and planning of University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension County Agents and DeKalb County Master Gardener Sarah Brodd, six raised beds and six small circular beds were built and prepared. Student volunteers and volunteers from each organization supporting the garden maintain it throughout the year.
Volunteers have grown and donated basil, broccoli, bush beans, cucumbers, kale, okra, onions, radishes, summer squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. Some food has been lost to bugs, rabbits, and this past winter to the freezing ice and snow, but every season brings new challenges, success, and lessons learned. In past harvesting seasons, volunteers walked out the back gate to deliver the fresh food to the Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, currently in its fifth decade serving families in our community. Now volunteers drive the produce to Suthers’ Center for Christian Outreach. Open on Tuesday and Friday mornings in Chamblee, their food pantry is a collaborative effort of area churches, the Oglethorpe University-Brookhaven Community Garden, and friends.
If you are interested in lending your green thumbs and getting involved with the garden, please contact Peyton Healy in the Oglethorpe Center for Civic Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.