In January 2021, Turn Around Columbus, a local community development organization, broke ground on its new project, the Victory Garden and Farm. The garden and farm is being developed on 10 vacant acres on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Columbus. This project is part of the organization’s mission to provide work-based education programs that help youth gain self-confidence and teach them important life skills they can use to help revitalize their community.
As part of the first phase, Turn Around Columbus is offering a Saturday Gardening Program at the Victory Garden and Farm. This program is free and runs Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. During the garden program, students participate in math and science lessons while doing hands-on work in the garden, practice literacy skills and create arts and crafts projects. Currently, the program is only available to students of J.D. Davis Elementary School. However, Turn Around Columbus has formed a partnership with the Muscogee County School District and plans on making the garden program available to all elementary schools in the Muscogee School District in the future.
As the development of the Victory Garden and Farm progresses, Turn Around Columbus plans on growing affordable food for the East Columbus community and providing agricultural education opportunities for high school students. The students will learn how to grow food and will be taught the entrepreneurial skills needed to run a small business. Once later phases of the project are complete, the organization plans to start hosting community events such as music concerts, parenting classes and community dinners at the Victory Garden and Farm.
Turn Around Columbus is currently raising funds to support construction projects involved in Phase I of the development of Victory Garden and Farm. Phase I of the project includes vital infrastructure, such as the development of the garden beds and the learning center. The organization is completely run by volunteers and is seeking volunteers to help at the Victory Garden and Farm. Volunteer opportunities include mentoring youth, helping with programs and participating in workdays at the Victory Garden and Farm. Donations of construction materials and of quality, lightly used garden tools are also being accepted.
When asked about the goal of the Victory Garden and Farm project, Roznell Buckner, President of Turn Around Columbus, said, “We are trying to build back the community and support families. We will teach kids where good food comes from and how it manages to get on store shelves, then we will bring in parents and let the kids teach parents what they know and what they have learned, which will bring the family unit back together.”
If you are interested in volunteering or would like to donate, please visit the organization’s website at turnaroundcolumbus.com