Bellevue community garden offers fresh, organic produce -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bellevue community garden offers fresh, organic produce


A one-acre community garden in the heart of Bellevue is so successful that it's open two days a week as a pick-your-own produce patch.

The Bellevue Edible Learning Lab - or BELL Garden - started as a plot for Bellevue Middle School.  Now the one-acre garden has hired a part-time manager, Nancy Murphy,  who helps organize lots of volunteers.

"And that's part of what I hope people get out of coming to this garden. That they learn a little something," Murphy said. 

BELL Garden  operates as a non-profit;  they receive grants  and make a little money by selling what they grow -- like the herbs that are dried  for tea and jam made with the farm's fresh blackberries.

Pickers will find the second planting of corn is just about ready for harvest. There  are still plenty of tomatoes for canning and slicing, as well as summer squash, okra and fresh herbs.

The garden also helps nourish about 45 families who rely on Bellevue United Methodist Church's food pantry.

"We probably donate about half of it,"  Murphy said.

Murphy said it's satisfying to see people learn about how food is grown and harvested; that it doesn't just come shrink-wrapped from the grocery store.

"The lack of knowledge of an entire generation, two generations,  about where food comes from, about how to grow food is absolutely shocking to me," she said.

It's a great learning lab full of lessons, including which kinds of bees are best for pollinating the vegetables.

BELL Garden has 10 laying hens – the volunteers are called "chicken tenders" – and fresh eggs are for sale during the pick-your-own hours.

The produce sells for about the same as what it would cost in grocery stores, but it's organic and fresh.

"We have a steady stream of repeat customers. We now have a lady who comes in and gets our fresh eggs every Tuesday," Murphy said.

BELL Garden is open Tuesday from 4 p.m. until dusk and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon.

For information on volunteering, you can sign up through Hands on Nashville or BELL Garden's Facebook page.

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