Community Lifestyles

Augusta Locally Grown sees its own growth since move

Augusta Locally Grown’s main mission is to help area farmers, but the organization has been doing some growing of its own since moving into the HUB for Community Innovation Augusta earlier this year.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” said Rebecca van Loenen, the organization’s director

While she had about a year to prepare for the move into the space at 631 Chafee Avenue, she said the transition has exceeded her expectations — in positive ways. She’s watched as the demand for services has grown.

The farmer’s markets are central to the organization. Inclement weather is now no longer issue because they can be held inside almost year-round, thanks to the spacious hallways that were designed with the events in mind, she said

A holiday farmer’s market was Thursday, Dec. 15 with locally grown veggies and gift shopping available as well as photos with Santa, cookie decorating and carolers.

In addition to the farmer’s market are classes that can be held inside the organization’s expansive commercial kitchen. Previous classes included breadmaking, making a 30-minute mozzarella and a how-to on using herbs. That’s one positive area of growth.

“Classes have been at capacity,” she said.

And more classes will be held after the first of the year.

One particularly successful program is the Georgia Food for Health program usually referred to as the veggie prescription program,

“I love the veggie prescription program,” she said.

Through it, Augusta Locally Grown collaborates with Harrisburg Family Health, another agency inside the HUB. While the partnership started before the HUB’s creation, it’s easier for participants now that the two groups are across the hall from one another.

Participants have their vitals monitored through the health center and receive dietician coaching as well as wellness and plant-based cooking classes. Participants receive double benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for purchasing fruits and vegetables.

And the results have been amazing, she said.

“One program participant lost over 100 pounds in just six months,” she said.

Also, 85 participants showed a reduction in their blood pressure numbers among the health benefits.

For giving Tuesday in November, Augusta Locally Grown requested sponsors to consider a $10 monthly donation to help a family participate in the veggie prescription program.

“We do have a partner that covers up to a family of three, but we are seeing families with a household size up to five,” she said

To learn more about Augusta Locally Grown or to donate, visit its website here.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Sign up for the free newsletter here.