We Love It When A Plan (And A Community) Comes Together

Wow! What a week it’s been.  In four days, we were able to combine our collective efforts to enjoy the true benefits of Atwood Community Gardens & Urban Farm . . . . food, fellowship, and fun.

NEXT Steps Become New Community Partner & Service Site for The Atlanta Break Away ABC Conference
NEXT Steps had the distinct pleasure of being a new community partner and service site of the Atlanta Alternative Break Citizenship Schools (ABCs) Conference (June 9-14). Their conference theme was “Restoring Neighborhoods; Rebuilding Opportunity” and was hosted by Emory University.
About The Service Partners of the ABC Conference. For the past 30 years, the historic neighborhood of South Atlanta has seen a movement toward responsible, ethical community work focused on economic development. In lieu of the mainstream model of one-way giving and simple hand-outs, organizations such as Healthy Belvedere, Emmaus House, Charis Community Housing, Community Grounds, The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program,
and South Atlanta Marketplace seek to empower the community through asset-based community development. Their collective mission is to build the community’s capacity by engaging neighborhood groups and residents in the common objectives of creating employment, investing in youth, and job training.  Participants will work within various social enterprise initiatives and among the community to support neighborhood revitalization from the bottom-up.
During the conference, visitors from all over the country participated in workshops, service projects, community interaction, speaker panels, team-building, sharing of ideas, and reflection times while gaining insight on how local community members and leaders from campuses nationwide address social issues.  As a new service site, 24 conference participants volunteered at Atwood Community Gardens each day in two four hour shifts to fulfill their service learning requirements.

Bringing It All Together…Literally!
On the last service learning day of the conference, Thursday, June 14, 2012, we finally got to see the culmination of NEXT Steps & Atwood’s donors and supporters gifts of time, equipment, labor and love in one moment in time. We successfully hosted Atwood’s very first Community Market Dinner of the season with an estimated 100+ attendees.

A big boatload of thanks and appreciation goes to: Lowe’s HEROES  for designing the Atwood S.T.E.M. Cafe with mulch, landscaping materials and a beautiful picket fence; Lili Crymes & Fred Conrad, Technical Advisors from the Atlanta Community Food Bank Community Garden Division for developing our community training garden;  the Hands On Atlanta Network for bringing over 800+ volunteers to Atwood for our monthly community cleanups;  Atlanta Community Tool Bank for supplying the volunteers with affordable tools and tool rental fees to complete the clean-up activities at Atwood; United Way for donating the picnic sports-brellas, folding chairs, rugs, storage bins, foaming soap, citronella candles,  and market baskets to create a cozy and intimate dinner/discussion environment; District Executive Chef Desmond Fannin of  Sodexo for the napkins, cutlery and latex gloves; the Outdoor Foundation for helping us purchase the picnic tables, benches, and market umbrellas (which our local growers absolutely loved); the Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen — a farm to street food truck that focuses on fresh food and uses organic and local ingredients when possible; the  SWOOM Atlanta Market Project that brought four local growers  to sell their fruits, vegetables and allow conference members to sample organic teas and beverages (Odom’s Produce, Life Essentials, West End Organic Garden, & Suzette The Sweet Georgia Peach Lady);  The Youth of Westview (Atwood’s summer interns supported by the Westview Community Organization), New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (youth volunteers);

Dr. Dave Epstein (Atwood S.T.E.M. Instructor and Designer of the Bioponica @ Outdoor Activity Center); Environmental Scientist Darryl Haddock (Atwood S.T.E.M. Instructor, Founder of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance @ the Outdoor Activity Center); President and residents from Beecher-Donnelly & Westview Community Organizations; and of course community members that came to buy produce at our farmer’s market and meet the conference attendees.

SWOOM Atlanta Farmer’s Market
@ Atwood Community Gardens & Urban Farm
779 Atwood Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310
Every Thursday, May-November 2012
4:00pm – 8:00pm
*** Youth Culinary Tour This Week ***
Join our Online Market (prepaid orders)



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