ALBANY – Phoebe and Flint River Fresh are partnering to provide fresh, locally-grown produce to people throughout the community who have limited access to healthy, affordable food. Leaders from both organizations officially opened a new community garden in the 200 block of West Fifth Avenue during a recent ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Phoebe and Flint River Fresh are both vital community organizations committed to improving overall health and wellness in southwest Georgia,” Scott Steiner, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, said in a news release. “Our partnership is a natural alliance, and we are excited to work together to revitalize this neighborhood by transforming this block into an asset we believe will benefit people in Albany for years to come.”

Phoebe donated three plots of land – a total of about three-quarters of an acre – to use for the garden.

Food harvested from the garden will be provided to those in need in the community in multiple ways. A large percentage will be donated to hunger relief organizations such as Feeding the Valley Food Bank. Some will be distributed to residents in nearby public housing units such as Arcadia Commons. In the summer, some of the produce will be provided to participants in the health department’s Women Infant and Children (WIC) program. FRF will also host community you-pick days during which volunteers who help harvest crops to benefit others can keep some for their personal use.

Crops currently being grown in the garden include carrots, onions, radishes, beets, lettuce, spinach, collards and strawberries. Flint River Fresh will grow various other crops in the garden year-round and plans to add fruit trees to the site soon.

FRF gained its 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service as an official nonprofit in Dec. 2017 with a mission of increasing access to fresh, healthy food in underserved areas of the community, creating new economic opportunities for local farmers and developing young people through agriculture.

“In such a short time, Flint River Fresh has become one of the most vital and vibrant charity organizations in this community. We’re proud to work alongside (the organization and all its) dedicated volunteers and board members, and we look forward to building on our partnership in the future,” Steiner said.

Phoebe’s Network of Trust also works with FRF, the Albany Recreation and Parks Department, UGA Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardeners, Georgia Farm Bureau and Southwest Georgia Project to sponsor gardens in all 14 elementary schools in the Dougherty County School System. FRF also has school gardens at the 4C Academy and both campuses of Deerfield Windsor School, in addition to gardens at four Albany Recreation and Parks Department community centers, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Boys & Girls Club in Plains and a demonstration garden at the Sunbelt Ag Expo site in Moultrie.

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