New Leaf celebrates with gala as garden grows
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the New Leaf Community Garden at 32 Salbide Ave. in downtown Newnan.
The idea took root about two years ago, when volunteers from Bridging The Gap were sorting and distributing food donations to needy families.
The volunteers, after reading the food labels, were struck by how many additives and chemicals were in the foods. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if their clients could have quality, freshly-grown foods with higher nutrition and fewer calories?
The seeds of a community garden were sown that day.
Phyllis Graham, volunteer and board member of New Leaf Community Garden, a not-for-profit organization, quoted the group’s mission statement that states New Leaf is “committed to educate, feed and nourish our community through a sustainable community garden.”
“Our immediate goal was to help feed the needy, but we quickly connected the dots to see how a community garden could help with the obesity challenge the nation faces while helping people eat fresh, healthy, home-grown foods that are delicious,” said Graham.
The organization leases land on which its volunteers plant and grow healthy, nutritious vegetables that are given to those who might otherwise be feeding their families cheap, but not healthy, processed food. It also gives young – and not so young – people the opportunity to educate themselves on how to grow healthy food while giving of their time to the community.
“We as a nation are realizing that just because we are able to import food from literally a half-world away doesn’t mean it’s the best tasting – or best for us,” Graham went on.
“Today, the top chefs locally and elsewhere are demanding locally-grown foods because of their freshness and taste. The health benefits are significant, true, but it also is the most delicious tasting food you can imagine,” Graham explained with the excitement of a true believer.
“It’s fun, it’s healthy, it’s delicious and it helps feed families that might not be able to afford this quality food elsewhere,” she said.
New Leaf’s Spring Gala was held on May 18 at the garden, with a host of supporters and volunteers enjoying a ribbon-cutting. Organizers plan to make the event an annual one.
Newnan Councilman Ray Dubose read a proclamation signed by Mayor Keith Brady. Live music and food added to the occasion.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Phyllis Graham. “We have beautiful garden beds, beautiful signage guiding guests through the layout and a wonderful opportunity for individuals to lease a 4-foot-8 bed to grow their own produce. Each Wednesday from 9 a.m.-noon, we sell fresh vegetables that we’ve grown at our Farmers Market next to the old train depot downtown.”
The community garden movement is gaining strength as more and more information on poor diet and obesity is being made available.
Every city in America seems to have community gardens in existence and more are coming along almost daily.
One of Graham’s favorite sayings comes from a leading fresh food guru on the West Coast.
“He said, ‘our health is more threatened from drive-throughs than by drive-bys,’” said Graham, noting the pervasiveness of reporting on drive-by shootings but less on the harm caused by fast foods.
Support for New Leaf is big and getting bigger, with some of Coweta’s best known citizens giving their time and money to keep the movement going.
More information can be found on their website at ourcommunitysfarmersmarket.com.