Light rain could not dampen spirits Saturday, as volunteers and local residents worked side-by-side in the dirt at IFFS’s Camden Street Learning Garden in Southeast Raleigh. In addition to urban ag “regulars,” members of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation were on hand for a massive work-day that blended communities and drew the attention of WRAL News.
GROWING TO TEACH, TEACHING TO GROW
After spending the morning weeding, mulching, laying a rock wall, and creating pathways through the garden’s Food Forest, the group received a sneak peek at IFFS’ new, on location classroom facility. Still in the midst of renovations, the transformed apartment unit will greatly expand teaching opportunities at Camden Street – and will do so in memory of the late Jamie Kirk Hahn.
Once finished, the classroom will feature a bathroom, a teaching kitchen (fit with stainless steel, an industrial sink, and a fridge), plus an on-site office for IFFS Raleigh Food Security Coordinator Katie Murray, who runs the Camden Street Learning Garden.
“IFFS offers a multi-week beginning gardening class called Seed to Supper, as well as a course called Cooking Matters, run by our nutrition division,” Murray explained to the group as they looked around. “We’ll be holding those classes here in the future. What we’re hoping to do is a hybrid of the two classes so that you literally go from seed…to supper. Students will learn how to grow their own food, learn about nutrition, what healthy eating is, and then learn how to prepare it. We’re going to grow our soil, we’re going to grow our food, we’re going to grow good people who are eating healthy, and then we’re also growing community, which is what you see all around you.”
Like all things at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Camden Street Learning Garden has grown through the power of partnerships.
“Everything is just falling into place,” said Murray. “It’s been such a pleasure working with the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation who’s offered so much support to us. And that’s why today, in honor of Jamie, we’re going to be dedicating this space to her.”
JAMIE’S SPIRIT LIVES ON
We’ve written before about the magical ability to build community through food at Camden Street Learning Garden. Well those powers were out in full force all morning, as folks of different backgrounds came together to plant seeds and care for young vegetable plants. And they remained in effect Saturday afternoon as friends new and old walked a block down the road to Martin Street Baptist Church to share a delicious meal from Beasley’s Chicken and Honey.
As plates emptied, Murray and IFFS Executive Director Dave Koch formally presented Hahn’s husband, Nation, and mother, Debra Funderburk, with the dedication plaque that will hang in the classroom once renovations are complete.
“In order to up-fit the office and the classroom, we needed financial support,” explained Koch. “And the partnership with the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation has really made that dream a reality. So today, I’d like to present to Nation and Debra a plaque:
“Inter-Faith Food Shuttle dedicates this place of learning in memory of Jamie Kirk Hahn for her devotion to justice, dedication to service, and determination to lift up the least, the last, and the lost. May all who walk through this door carry forward her mission and her light in the world.”
“We’re all from different backgrounds, and we’re all here sharing a meal together in honor of somebody who inspired this garden from its very roots,” said Murray. “And that person is Jamie Kirk Hahn. We are so grateful to the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation because without their support we couldn’t have done this. We now have this site that I know, from what I’ve heard about her, she’d be proud of. And she’d be so proud of the community that we’ve built around it.”
“Yesterday was two years since we lost Jamie,” said Funderburk upon receiving the plaque. “Nothing in the world could commemorate that day in more of a special manner than this.”
“It means everything,” added Nation Hahn. “This work, and the work of the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation, seeing all of you here today really represents how Jamie lived. And that’s the important stuff. It’s not how she died, it’s how she lived. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is how deeply we care and what we did for others.”
By Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact: Lindsay@FoodShuttle.org