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Nonprofit using community garden to feed ‘food-insecure’ moves to First Baptist
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Robin Friedman, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener coordinator and board member for Jubilee Farm, works alongside other volunteers at the nonprofit's new community garden site on the Bradford Street side of First Baptist Church in Gainesville. (Photo by Rod Reilly)

Jubilee Farm’s promise as a community garden has taken some toiling in the soil to keep.

But its new home on the campus of First Baptist Church at 751 Green St. in Gainesville offers the chance for stability and growth.

Robin Friedman, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener coordinator and board member for Jubilee Farm, said the land, water, materials and other resources provided by the church came at a critical time for the nonprofit serving the needs of individuals and families who are considered “food-insecure.”

How to help

What: Jubilee Farm community garden to help feed “food-insecure”

Where: Bradford Street side of First Baptist Church, 751 Green St., Gainesville

When: Usually 9-11 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays; volunteers welcome

More info: 334-546-8837 or jubileecommunityfarm@gmail.com

“It really is very exciting,” Friedman said. “It gives us a partnership, which we were really looking for.”  

It also means the Rev. Bill Coates, senior pastor at FBC, has a promise of his own to keep.

“I plan to volunteer,” he said.

Coates said the church had long eyed an opportunity to develop a community garden whose crop could support local food ministries, but nothing ever materialized until Jubilee came calling.

“We were thrilled,” Coates said. “We’re excited about the whole project.”

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Robert Cuttino, Barbara Foxhall and Joe Kidd work at Jubilee Farm’s new community garden site on the Bradford Street side of First Baptist Church in Gainesville. Foxhall is board president for Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Rod Reilly)
Jubilee first sprouted on a vacant lot at the corner of Davis and Pine streets in the midtown industrial area of Gainesville.

But plans to relocate elsewhere ran into hiccups before FBC offered land on the Bradford Street end of its property.

Friedman said Jubilee remains an autonomous nonprofit. But the space at FBC allows all donations to Jubilee to be “earmarked specifically for what we need to keep growing,” Friedman said, both as a nonprofit and the literal crop Jubilee is able to yield.

“We’re very grateful,” Friedman added.

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank in Gainesville reports that about 18,000 people each month in its service area have unmet food needs, and it estimates that 47,000 food-insecure individuals live in Hall, Forsyth, Dawson, Lumpkin and Union counties. Food-insecure “is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Much of the food harvested by Jubilee, which has included yellow squash, beans, peppers, zucchini, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, black-eyed peas and okra, for example, is distributed to local missions and shelters such as Good News at Noon and The Way, as well as to local food pantries.

“It is a garden for all,” Friedman said.

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Volunteer and board member Jackie Nabb works during a spring planting for Jubilee Farm at its new location on the Bradford Street side of First Baptist Church in Gainesville. (Photo by Rod Reilly)
Moreover, the nonprofit, which has a 12-member board and core of longtime volunteers, includes an educational component, with mentoring available for those who plant and plans to add cooking classes in the future.

Friedman said one of the challenges of relocating to the FBC campus is the work it will take to make the garden accessible so that all can “join in the fellowship.”

“We want to be close to individuals that we most wanted to be a part of our garden community,” she added.

This includes outreach to low-income families, churches, schools, and minority and immigrant communities.

Friedman said Jubilee would like to host an “open house” event at the garden once this year’s crop is in next month.

“We need to make sure that we network and connect effectively so that we can have that accessibility,” Friedman said.

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Danny Askew and Bill Brooksher work during a recent spring planting at Jubilee Farm, which has moved from a site in midtown to property on the Bradford Street side of the First Baptist Church campus. Brooksher and Askew are both board members for Jubilee Farm. (Photo by Rod Reilly)
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