SCA Volunteers Grow Hope in Atlanta

Metro Atlanta Urban Farm is a five acre parcel in the city’s College Park section. Its certified naturally-grown crops are raised and harvested by a small staff and volunteers, and on Saturday the farm hosted one of SCA’s first Earth Month service projects, drawing close to 40 people despite threatening skies.
The project was coordinated by two former SCA crew leaders: Aubree Heaps, who lives some 90 minutes away in northern Georgia, and Flannery Pearson-Clarke, who works with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. “I lead volunteer groups like this one in sixty-five local gardens that introduce fresh produce into the community,” she noted. “Last year, our community gardens provided 68,000 pounds of produce for local nonprofits and food banks.”
Volunteers included numerous SCA alumni, local students from Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College, and others. Nicollette Harris and Deirdre Lamar, both of whom are employed by Southwest Airlines, were excited to reflect their employer’s corporate support for SCA and local communities. “I work for a great company whose symbol is a heart,” said Nilcolette. “You never know what situation you might find yourself in.” Deirdre agreed. “It’s important to give back,” she said, “and to ensure access to fresh, locally grown food.”
Over a span of three hours, volunteers hoed, planted, picked, and weeded in rows of peppers, tomatoes, collard greens, and more. Halfway through, Farm CEO Bobby Wilson could only marvel. “Y’all could quit right now and you’d still put us ahead of the game!” he told them. 
Although the project’s top priority was to raise food for local dinner tables, Bobby pointed out it created other outcomes as well, such as instilling “horticultural and agricultural literacy, because if everyone grew their own food, he says, they’d be that much closer to self sufficiency.” 
The event also fulfilled another important goal. As noted by Tom Flynn, an SCA crew leader currently living in the area, “Projects like this bring the local community together and gets people involved in the green movement.”
Three years ago, April Jefferson moved to Atlanta from Jackson, MS. A social worker, April considers service a civic duty and was pleased to see so many young people aiding the Urban Farm. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many of your students here today,” she stated. “They have such good things to say. They’ve been so inspired by SCA.”
When told it seemed apropos that SCA would kick off Earth Month with a volunteer named April, she smiled and gestured at the other working hands. “When I was younger, in Mississippi, my granny always said you do what you can to help other folks. In her day, they did this kind of thing – farming – all together. I kind of think she would be proud of me and all of us, giving back in our own little way.”
Student Conservation Association