By Ingela Hartman
Savannah is full of greenery, Spanish moss and 22 squares filled with beautiful flowers. But you can’t eat flowers.
While they are lovely to look at, they cannot sustain us. Enter Savannah Urban Garden Alliance (SUGA), a non-profit organization that is working to start a gardening movement in the Savannah area, one garden at a time.
Inspired by the success of community garden programs in other cities, Kelly Lockamy founded SUGA in March 2009. Lockamy dreamed of bringing sustainable agriculture to Savannah and giving residents access to healthy, organic food.
Since its inception, Lockamy, along with SUGA’s board members and community partners, has gone on to seed three community gardens.
“People say ‘Oh I’d buy organic, but it’s too expensive and I can’t afford it,’ but growing it yourself is so inexpensive,” said Lockamy. “I mean, it takes a little time and effort, but it’s time well spent. It’s been shown that gardening lowers your blood pressure, gives you exercise and fresh air. Plus, you get to keep all that organic food.”
Starfish Community Garden, located downtown at East Broad and Gwinnett Streets, and Tybee Community Garden, behind the Tybee Island Fire Station, offer individual plots to lease for a small annual fee. These gardens are helping to bring people together by providing the land and tools for residents to grow their own produce. All the gardens use organic and sustainable techniques to ensure that the food is chemical free.
SUGA believes that community gardens can also be instrumental in addressing food accessibility and nutrition. Their Growing Edge Community Garden, located behind the West Broad Street YMCA on May Street, does just that. This area identifies as one of Savannah’s food deserts where access to fresh food is limited. SUGA uses Growing Edge to teach area children and families the benefits of gardening and how to use the fresh produce through hands-on education and cooking workshops.
“The first year of the garden, we had more cucumbers than we knew what to do with,” said Peter Doliber, executive director/CEO of the West Broad Street YMCA. “We brought them in for snacks and the kids loved them. Many of them had never seen a cucumber before.”
To learn how you can get involved or how to start a community garden in your area, go to www.sugacentral.org.Contact Ingela Hartman.