Blue Ridge, Ga. – Feed Fannin is celebrating 10 years of serving Fannin County and throughout the years the all volunteer organization has grown and become a template for other projects across the state of Georgia.
Feed Fannin was founded in 2009 by Barbara Ferer who had a vision of bringing individuals together to “educate and encourage our community towards self-sufficiency while providing food for those in need”.
The very first garden planted in Fannin County was at Davenport Brothers Wood Yard and from there smaller gardens popped throughout the community.
“Our primary goal is to provide food or funds for the pantry,” Feed Fannin Board of Directors member Jane Kimzey said explaining the mission of the organization, and what Feed Fannin has provided to the Family Connection food pantry.
Through organically gardening a variety of produce, which varies year to year, Feed Fannin was able to raise and contribute 7,415 pounds of vegetables to the community in 2018. This large amount is predominantly attributed to, beyond the vast hours of work volunteers put in regularly, the Fannin County School System leasing a tract of land on Ada Street.
According to John Sugg, Chairman of Feed Fannin, acquiring the Ada Street property allowed the organization to grow exponentially.
“We are here today and we have one purpose, to tell you all thank you. This partnership means a lot to us,” Sugg spoke recently to the Fannin County Board of Education.
The Ada Street property was first leased from the school system in 2013, with the first garden being planted on site in April of 2014. The land, which is leased for $1.00 per year, not only allowed for Feed Fannin to move forward in their mission but also opened up an ongoing mutually beneficial relationship between the organization and the local schools.
Working side by side with Fannin County’s Future Farmers of America (FFA), Feed Fannin is excited to see the school system’s new Agriculture Center completed adjacent to their gardens.
“We work closely with their new Ag Center which is a jewel in this community,” Sugg said of the relationship shared with Fannin County schools.
Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley spoke of the school system’s appreciation for Feed Fannin, “They have been a great partner to us. Through our STEM program and different things, they have helped us financially and been a partner in the community. They do a lot of great things.”
Since their beginning in 2009 Feed Fannin has provided the local food pantry and community with 64,797 pounds of produce. Along with this produce Feed Fannin works to raise money for the Family Connection food pantry.
“We either give the money directly to the food pantry in some cases, but in some cases we use it to purchase milk and eggs,” Kimzey spoke of the use of the funds raised each year.
Since 2009 Feed Fannin has raised over $320,000 to support area projects. Besides general upkeep of gardens and equipment, all money raised goes directly into the community, as there is no paid staff and the organization runs on a volunteer basis only.
Much of the funds raised for Feed Fannin come from the annual Bowls of Hope fundraiser. 2018 saw record breaking numbers as this fundraiser alone was responsible for bringing in almost $32,000.
So what’s in store for the future of Feed Fannin? Currently more than 168 volunteers work to provide services to the county. These services include year long educational classes, working with local elementary schools on gardening programs, continuing a relationship with Fannin County’s FFA program and stocking shelves with home grown goods for the local food pantry.
Feed Fannin has recently added a research and development team to keep up with the latest methods in gardening and to look into ways to improve an already successful program. An experimental garden has also been added to the Family Connection property and is being funded by an independent organization.
There is work being done to expand Feed Fannin’s allotment garden where individuals with less than ideal conditions for gardening can make use of the community land and plant their own small gardens.
Chairman of the Fannin County Board of Commissioners Stan Helton read from a proclamation acknowledging the work done by Feed Fannin, “Where as hunger in Fannin County continues to be problem, Feed Fannin, a group of individuals have joined forces to eliminate hunger in Fannin County by helping others help themselves through community gardening, education and shared resources.”
Feed Fannin invites all citizens of Fannin County to celebrate with them as they mark 10 years of service in our area. The annual fundraiser, Bowls of Hope, will be held on April 27, 2019 at Willow Creek Falls and Vineyard.
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