I love spending time volunteering at Friends of English Avenue! You won’t believe what all happens there everyday! FEA is growing 1,600 pounds of organic vegetables on inner city property per year that feeds the entire English Avenue and Elm Street neighborhoods. FEA has provided a rent free, newly renovated house to an Atlanta policewoman and her family. The neighborhood’s cohesive camaraderie has taken a life of its own and now stands up against crime and drug dealers. Crime is now down by 45% in a neighborhood that was formerly the most dangerous zip code in the city of Atlanta. All of these positive changes are impacting and strengthening relationships between the neighborhood, FEA, and the city.
How did this happen? It’s all about the food! FEA’s founder, our good friend John Gordon, saw this vision four years ago. He knew that if he could find a way to feed the neighborhood, create jobs through the food, and give the neighborhood sustainability, then he could reduce poverty, crime, and hopelessness. Years later, this has come to fruition.
It is so much fun to be on Elm Street or English Avenue planting, pruning, and harvesting these vegetables. Pictured at the very top of this article are FEA’s Dariel Vaughn and I planting the English Avenue Tomato last spring. This tomato is already pre-sold at market price in a few stores and 100% of the proceeds will go back into these neighborhoods.
The residents are deeply vested in their gardens’ success and appreciate volunteers joining them in gardening projects. We all work together and continue to build relationships through the caring and growing of food. It’s food and relationships at its best!
Last Tuesday night, we had a well attended celebration at the new Elm Street Garden. John hosted the dedication ceremony for this garden. Paul and I volunteered our band to play at the event. We shared food, music, fun, and fellowship with our friends, donors, board members, residents, police, and city officials. Stay tuned as we open the next chapter in the lives of the gardens and their residents. There is much more in store in the bountiful world of food and relationships!