Senior students from Cambridge High School participate five days a week throughout the school year in the Educational Field course where they learn how to run a small-scale organic garden.
“These students are committed to learning all aspects of agriculture,” said Musilli. “They’re learning online sales and marketing; they have social media and email marketing. They create a logo and do branding and they have customer service.”
All this in addition to creating the product. Students are seeding, transplanting, tending their crops and then harvesting the vegetables, packaging it and delivering to their customers every Friday.
The entire farm harvested over 4,000 pounds of food last year with more than half going to North Fulton Community Charities Food Pantry. The rest is sold by the students who often go on to major in agriculture or veterinary medicine.
“If at the very, very least, if they don’t go into agriculture at all, they got their hands dirty; they got to see where their food comes from; they got to see how hard the work is that gets a bean from the field to their plate,” she said.
Like other local cities, the Community Garden offers residents the chance to rent one of 36 raised garden beds. Unique to the program, gardeners also receive an allotment of seeds and seedlings three times a year, along with guidance on when and how to plant their crops. The same program is available for growers who have a garden at home.
The Grow-A-Row program is a dedicated field of seven rows that grow exclusively to provide produce for the NFCC food bank. Volunteers adopt the rows and, again, are provided with seeds, plants and a schedule for planting.
“We always have a waiting list,” noted Musilli. “Last time I counted we had 64 people participating.”
On Fridays volunteers conduct a community harvest. People sign up to help pick the produce so the food can be delivered by 10:30 a.m. to the food bank.
“We have something for everyone here,” the Community Services Manager said. “We’ll have toddlers here planting garlic and then we have senior citizens putting labels on seed packets.”
The entire program, which falls under the Alpharetta Recreation, Parks & Cultural Services Department is funded almost entirely by the city, although donations of soil, seeds and money are always welcome.
The overarching message from Musilli is this, “We would not be able to do this without the community. The community has been behind this effort from the very beginning. In 2022 we had 3,742 hours that were donated by 746 volunteers.”
Learn more, participate or donate at www.tinyurl.com/AlpharettaCommunityAgProgram.