BUFORD, GA – A local nonprofit is growing an urban garden for the benefit of families in and around Gwinnett County distressed by food insecurity.
Grow2B, founded by members of St. Mary and Martha of Bethany Episcopal Church, shares its bounty with families in need while its volunteers advocate for the hungry, implement regenerative agricultural practices that care for the land, and educate about how to better serve their neighbor and self. Now in its second year the garden is on track to generate about 1000 pounds of produce.
The nonprofit Grow2B is holding a fundraising event on June 23 from 6:15 – 8:30 pm. which includes a presentation on The Forest’s Gifts of Food, Medicine, and Craft by Mark Warren, an award-winning writer and naturalist, and director of the nationally renowned wilderness school, Medicine Bow. Make your advance reservation and ticket purchase.
Grow2B founder and coordinator, Jane Smith, said that the garden is intended to be more than just a place to grow food.
“It’s a place to grow community, to grow faith, to grow hope,” she said. “We want to share our love of God’s creation with everyone who comes here, and we want to make a difference in our neighborhood and beyond.”
St. Mary and Martha pastor The Rev. Laura Masterson said Grow2B was started in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on food access and security.
“This church experienced hardships during the pandemic all while creation just did its thing on our land. ‘How do we grow? How do we heal? To what do we cling?’ were some of the questions we asked ourselves before someone reminded us to just look out our window to God’s creation to find the answer. God’s ways far surpass our own. Our garden reminds us of that,” Masterson said.
A grant from Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia provided the infrastructure for the garden which the church then built upon through partnerships with local organizations and businesses.
Grow2B volunteers host workshops and events to teach gardening skills and raise awareness about food justice.
The garden occupies a part of the church’s approximately 34 acres of hardwoods, wetlands, and meadow, Masterson said.
It supports a variety of crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, beans, herbs, and flowers grown with organic and sustainable methods such as composting, mulching, and rain barrels to conserve water and enrich the soil.
Grow2B provides healthy food options to address hunger issues in Hall and surrounding counties. It also bridges connections and sparks conversations among different groups and individuals in the community while showing how to take care of natural spaces and resources.
And, Pastor Masterson said, it also feeds the soul. “It nourishes the good and spirit that comes from working and playing together outdoors. It also helps people learn new skills and develop a sense of purpose and belonging.”
The garden located at 4346 Ridge Road, Buford, GA 30519 is open to visitors on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month from 8:30 to 11:00 AM. While there you can help with various garden projects such as planting, weeding, harvesting, and composting. “You don’t need any experience or tools, just bring gloves, a hat, and a water bottle,” said farm manager David Mitchell.
Follow Grow2B on Facebook to stay updated on their events and activities. Share the word about Grow2B on your social media, invite your friends and family to join you in volunteering, or write a review about your experience.