Love Offering

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Last week at farm camp I had the kiddos share family traditions surrounding food.  Many reflected the norms of American culture: Friday night pizza, a cake purchased from a local grocery on Sunday and a stop for chicken wings every Wednesday after football practice.  There were a few that spoke about the coming together of extended family and friends, foods that have rich roots in their family history. One girl spoke about her family routinely eating vegetables like callaloo and sorrel from her parents’ homelands in the Caribbean. A boy spoke of picking vegetables at his family’s garden with his siblings.

One of our camp kiddos enjoying a blueberry on the farm

One of our camp kiddos enjoying a blueberry on the farm

This summer I’ve simplified my relationship with food: I just eat what feels right.  My office is located on a farm so food surrounds me. One of my greatest joys a nabbing a perfectly sweet tomato from the vine and plopping it directly into my mouth. It is the best.  Project Generation Gap has also been growing wheatgrass in our aquaponics system so cutting a plug pure nutrition and chewing on it is a daily treat for me.

Wheatgrass grown just steps from my desk!

Wheatgrass grown just steps from my desk!

Working at the markets this summer has provided routine access to this summers harvest. Squash, zucchini, blueberries, peaches… just a few steps away from my booth.  My weekly meals include tabouli from my new friend Fikret, A bountiful salad with vegetables from Grow Where You Are, and micro green wraps from Farmer George. Every now and then I will indulge myself with a sea salt and chocolate popsicle from Wholly Pops or an iced coffee from Java Genesis but my typically dessert is a peach out of the scratch and dent box or a few slices of watermelon given to the Stone Mountain market manager by a local resident.  Actually, the ceremonial slicing of the watermelon and sharing it with  shoppers and vendors has become a highlight of my week.

Lovingly presented to me by Nicole Bluh of Grow Where You Are

Lovingly presented to me by Nicole Bluh of Grow Where You Are

The focus of the famers market are the farmers and the shoppers; as it should be. However, I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of the “pit crew”; The behinds the scenes folk who help the market flow like a well oiled machine. Market managers, volunteers, and other callaborators work tirelessly  to pull off a seamless 4 hour experience for their community.  Seeing it from this angle has given me such a wonderful perspective of what is possible when communities come together.

Outside of the market, there have been tremendous highs and some pretty significant lows this summer.  On the low end, we lost a large portion of our livestock at the High Garden Center due to an attack by a neighbor’s dogs.  George and Krista are seeing this as an opportunity to take a step back a re-group; illustrating the spirit of farming.

On the high end, I’ve been working feverishly with Brennan Washington of Phoenix Gardens to launch the Georgia Farmers Market Association. Brennan is an icon in the Georgia agriculture scene and has been working for six years to establish a state-wide resource for farmers, market managers and shoppers. It has been a pleasure to join him on this mission! We’ve pooled together many of the rock stars of our food system; from every nook and cranny of Georgia. More details to come. 🙂

Personally, summers have always been bittersweet and this summer is no exception. I am preparing to send my youngest son off to college and processing all of the emotions that go along with it. I am excited about this new chapter for all of us but watching your boys grow into men is gut wrenching on many levels.  The second time has been no easier than the first.

Next week I prepare to leave for my farmer intensive at SoulFire farm.  Actually I’ve been preparing all summer. My trip to get to know Arcadia Mobile Market early in the summer came with a  heaping serving of what I call “the good”. My soul sisters Dawn and Juju; have set the bar high when it comes to faith, family, sisterhood and community.  I sopped up all they offered.

Me and Juju

Me and Juju

She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
Toni Morrison

It is so very, very good.

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If You Build It….

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Some time ago I wrote about starting a health, wellness and community revolution.  After spending years hoping ‘somebody’  would show up and step up, I realized that person was me. 🙂 My close friend, client, and colleague Janice had a similar epiphany at about the same time; we were both overwhelmed with the need to do something.  With that, Project Generation Gap was born.  We incorporated our non profit organization in December of 2013 with the goal of supporting an accessible, healthy, sustainable food system. As we see it,  the key to it all is community; placing a high value on our elders and nurturing our children.   We learned early on that we had to create an organic experience through relationship building.

While our efforts are not new to most of you, this major, exciting announcement is!

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

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Real food abounds here!

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The original barn

Project Generation Gap has partnered with The High Garden Center.  Our office will be housed at their farm along side a community center we are building together.  We will work together to bring quality nutrition and food education to our community. In my next post I will introduce you to  the dynamic duo behind HGC, George and Krista. They have been quietly working on their garden center… they seriously have their hands on a little slice of heaven.

One thing I have learned in the last year working with farmers/growers is that they rarely see the magnitude of what they offer. I am blown away with how humbly they work the land and then graciously share the fruits of their labor with their neighbors.  In addition to the supporting the growth at The HGC,  we have identified other farmers, growers, and tradesmen/women to support.  We sent 11 kids to farm camp, facilitated  (along with our partner firm Atlanta Food &Farm) an opportunity for The High Garden Center to create 10 rooftop self watering planters  at the Pittman Park Community Center and  we’ve organized/ participated in volunteer work days on area farms.  Each of these efforts engaged the community, provided education, and supported farmers directly.  Our work is just beginning!   We are  creating a comprehensive internship program  that will provide an array of services to our farmers (we just brought on our first official intern to help us at the High Garden Center and she is AWESOME) and we have partnered with like minded businesses and other non profits to provide the funding and manpower needed to create quality programming. We have family and community events planned and ultimately (through our partner farmers/providers) we will provide access to array of seasonal, local fresh vegetables, humanely raised and  processed antibiotic free meat, and minimally processed prepared food.  It is our goal to make our neighbors aware of the importance of supporting local growers and the value of good quality food.

Equally as important to the work we will do to support the farmers and consumers is our outreach work.  We have found a great fit coordinating  food demonstrations for preschoolers. Such FUN!   We will continue to offer programing to children and adults of all ages  in the form of classes and seminars.  We will be in local schools, at community centers, and presenting at events across the community.  We will also share all that we know and learn about nutrient dense food and self-sustainability to our friends and supporters across the country.

So how on Earth are we going to do it?

Well, it’s a family affair! We’ve been working hard at establishing relationships in our community. The outpouring of support has been incredible.  Our  vision started with a small board of directors and has grown include the ideas/work of  farmers, business owners, other non profits, and agencies.  No need to re-invent the wheel!  We also  did outreach at local farmers’  markets during the summer in order to get to know our community better.  As a result, our network of volunteers has blossomed. The PGG team has  social workers, registered nurses, college students, nutritionists, chefs, social workers, teachers, accountants, health/wellness professionals, horticulturalists, artists, a graphic designer, saleswomen, consultants, a cosmetologist, engineers, stay at home moms, homesteaders, general contractors, a fireman… I am sure I am forgetting something!  We are Caucasian, African American, Columbian, Indian, Mexican, Biracial, Vietnamese, West Indian. We range in age from 9 months to 70+.

The point is, we are the community.

Look forward to getting to know our team better. You are going to love them!

Here are few ictures from our recent work weekend at The High Garden Center.  Magical things are happening there. If you’d like to be a part of it, please email us here. We’d love to have you! Next up:  a community bonfire!

Taking it down to build it back again!

Taking it down to build it back stronger!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol