The last day of May was perfect for celebrating a place for growing, for coming together, and for renewal and revitalization … Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Geer Street Learning Garden. On Geer Street in Durham, between Roxboro and Mangum Streets, you will find a beautiful, blooming oasis. And on Tuesday, May 31, dozens of Garden supporters, partners, community members, and staff gathered there to celebrate all that has been built - and all that is yet to come.
Eliza Bordley, Food Shuttle’s Durham Urban Ag Programs Manager, made sure all were welcomed, acknowledged, and educated about the Garden. Visitors toured garden areas such as the Pollinator Garden (sponsored by Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation), the Donation Garden (sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina), and the Compost area (in partnership with Tilthy Rich Compost).
Peter Skillern, Executive Director of Reinvestment Partners noted how the neighborhood has turned around over the last several years, with drug houses giving way to nonprofits, offices, and a “food corridor.” He also emphasized how gardening brings us all into contact with nature and is a step towards feeding the $50,000+ food insecure individuals in Durham county. Kathy Higgins, VP Corporate Affairs with BCBSNC, was instrumental in moving the Garden from BCBSNC headquarters to Geer Street, where donated produce from the garden will provide a positive impact on the neighborhood. Matt Kopac, VP of Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation said, “The Geer Street Learning Garden hits all three criteria for Burt’s Bees support: it supports local farmers; it supports pollinators that we all rely upon; and it provides access to fresh, local foods to individuals who have not had that access in the past." Also in attendance was North Carolina Senator Mike Woodard.
Guests participated in a planting exercise. All enjoyed warm sun and cool breezes as speakers shared their vision for the space. Perhaps most enjoyable of all, everyone feasted on a beautiful fresh lunch prepared by “Catering With A Cause,” the Food Shuttle’s not-for-profit catering arm. Lunches were cooked to order on the Food Shuttle’s orange food truck, the “Mobile Tastiness Machine” – and used fresh ingredients harvested just the day before from both the Geer Street Learning Garden and the Food Shuttle’s Teaching Farm on Tryon Road in Raleigh.
Learning happens here
Eliza has truly created a Learning Garden, with several educational programs based there:
- Junior Master Gardeners: a semester-long program for preschool & elementary school students within a three-mile radius of the garden.
- Seed 2 Supper: a six-week program teaching low income families how to garden at home.
- Production Assistant Internship: six-week, 20 hours/week paid internship for a high school student from Partners for youth Opportunity.
- Public Workshops and Workdays: every Wednesday and two Saturdays each month, year-round.
The Geer Street Learning Garden is a real testament to what can be accomplished when individuals, nonprofits, community members and corporate partners all come together to bring a vision to life!
By Sally Bache, IFFS Administrative Services Manager. Contact: Sally@FoodShuttle.org