After a three-year pilot, Georgia Food Oasis is excited to move into its next phase with the launch of the GFO Network! The Georgia Food Oasis Network seeks to elevate and connect pioneering communities across the state who are engaged in the vital work of growing local food access in their neighborhoods. Along with our three pilot communities, we’re also excited to announce the addition of five new Georgia communities to the growing network of good food champions across the state:
- Rome/Floyd Co.
Lead organization: The William S. Davies Homeless Shelter
- The Davies Shelter is developing two major good food projects in partnership with other organizations this year. The first is a 2-acre Community Farm in partnership with South Rome Redevelopment Corporation, the City of Rome, Rome Action Ministries, and the ECO Center. The second program is the Farm Bus, donated by St. Mary’s Catholic School and converted into a mobile farmers market by students at Berry College’s Creative Innovations Lab.
- Waycross/Ware Co.
Lead organization: Waygreen Homestead Guild
- Waygreen works with and supports local farmers to offer fresh, local sustainable foods year round through an online market and seasonal local fare market that attracts over 600 shoppers May-November. Through partnerships with a local food bank, Destination Downtown, and Ware Children’s Initiative (Family Connections), a new Southeast Georgia Glean Team has formed and is currently gleaning local fruits and vegetables. WayGreen also partners with local schools, the Southeast Health District, the local chapter of Slow Food South Georgia, and other organizations, to offer services such as cooking demonstrations, food giveaways, and gardening classes.
- Monroe/Walton Co.
Lead organization: Walton Wellness
- In 2012, Walton Wellness launched the Mobile Farmacy Farmer’s Market for financially burdened citizens in the community. The market seeded Walton Wellness’s Grow A Row project, which encourages churches, organizations and businesses to plant raised bed gardens and donate the produce to the market. These and other successes led to the formation of the Walton Local Food Alliance in 2018. The alliance includes farmers, chefs, business owners, organizations, government entities, and faith-based communities.
- Albany/Dougherty Co.
Lead organization: The Southwest Georgia Project
- Southwest Georgia Project has partnered with the local school systems and developed teaching gardens at every elementary school in Dougherty County, established direct to consumer farmers markets in collaboration with Friends of Tift Park, created a Farm to Daycare Curriculum for childcare centers, provided nutrition education to the most vulnerable in collaboration with Public Health, and supported family farmers through training, outreach and technical assistance.
- Savannah/Chatham Co.
Lead organization: Healthy Savannah
- Healthy Savannah is operated by a diverse group of dedicated volunteers, and its work and membership reach deeply into underserved areas. Healthy Savannah actively engages the community in its projects and actions and has conducted community surveys to identify and champion specific policy, systems, and environmental change to meet the needs of underserved populations.
A local food policy coalition more than a decade old, over a dozen farmers’ markets (including some mobile markets!), a compost operation and an urban orchard are just a few of the ways good food champions in the network are empowering their communities to discover, taste and learn about food. One of GFO Network’s main goals is to facilitate peer-to-peer connections between good food advocates and community leaders across the state that will support communities in self-developing innovative and affordable ways to eat, cook and grow local, fresh food. The GFO approach to developing a food oasis community focuses on the 4 ps: public engagement, partnership, planning, and policy to drive community-led solutions for improving supply, access to, and consumption of healthy food.
Over the next several months, Georgia Food Oasis will host a number of trainings, workshops, and networking events designed to share knowledge about Georgia’s good food movement and provide opportunities to foster meaningful connections with our neighbors across the state working to ensure all Georgians have access to fresh, healthy food no matter where they live. Stay in the know by signing up for our GFO e-newsletter!