Mableton volunteers rally to save Lupin, the community garden goat
Our Giving Garden donates fresh produce to those in need
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A sunny day at Our Giving Garden on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Mableton, Georgia. Our Giving Garden is a nonprofit community garden that donates fresh produce to families without access to it. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION.
Tucked away on a side street in Mableton, community garden volunteers grow fruits and vegetables, all of which they give to people who lack access to fresh produce.
Last year, Our Giving Garden donated 3,500 pounds of food to local food banks. It truly is a team effort, volunteers say: the 35 chickens lay eggs, the six goats do the landscaping and the animals all contribute to the garden’s soil.
But now, Lupin the goat needs the community’s help.
Lupin fell ill over the Memorial Day weekend and had to be separated from his goat family, who are the favorites of the garden’s summer camp kids.
Credit: Christina Matacotta
Credit: Christina Matacotta
“We don’t entirely know what is going on with him,” said volunteer Abby Redmond, who helps care for the garden’s animals. “We’ve been on the phone with a lot of vets and administering medications.”
Redmond started a GoFundMe online for people to donate money towards Lupin’s treatment. As of Friday, they raised $585, and are short of their $1,500 goal.
Our Giving Garden’s mission is to “interrupt poverty through fresh food access, education, and greenspace access,” its website says.
The garden’s 3.5-acre grounds feature fruit trees, bee hives, a vegetable garden, blueberry bushes, a pond, an outdoor classroom, and animal pens. Volunteers host daily summer camps for kids to learn about gardening, taking care of animals and the environment.
“A lot of the kids that come have never seen a tomato plant in real life. They’ve never seen a chicken in real life,” said Hillary Jensen, the garden’s director and only full-time employee.
The summer camps, which Jensen said they keep affordable for low-income families, are the main source of income to keep the garden afloat.
The fruits, vegetables and eggs from the garden go straight to monthly food banks or to the garden’s own 24-hour anonymous food pantry. A few areas in Mableton lack access to fresh produce, and for some people, the garden is their only source of fruits and vegetables.
“People are very unaware of how much poverty is in their own community,” Redmond said. “Hunger is hiding in plain sight, all the time.”
Judy Byler, who helped found the garden in 2016, said having the anonymous pantry can really help those who may be ashamed of signing up at a food bank, and the impact is indescribable, she said.
“You can’t even summarize those little moments that you witness,” she said. “One lady with a walker rolls up and brings a couple of grocery bags, gets some groceries, and walks home.”
Their goal this year is to donate 4,000 pounds of food, and they rely almost entirely on volunteers to tend the garden and take care of the animals.
There are no veterinarians that care for large animals in the immediate area, Jensen said, so the volunteers have been bottle feeding and caring for Lupin until they may need to take him to the University of Georgia’s animal hospital.
“Everyone was buying supplies out of their own pocket,” Jensen said. “We’ve been fortunate to not have any major animal emergencies like this, but animals do sometimes get sick, and we have to figure it out on the fly.”