The project is the brainchild of Dave Clark and Roxanna Sims who use Forever Sunrise Organics, a tiny Piedmont farm where crops are grown in raised beds. Clark said community interest concerning the farm began to grow, so the pair began planning to build a public garden to teach would-be farmers how to grow organic produce.
“Our mission is to protect our local food source by empowering every member of our community with access to resources for production, preserving and preparation of safe healthy foods,” Sims wrote in an email.
While Sims and Clark’s main goal is to teach more people how to grow organic produce, their mission is actually twofold. They also want to help bring economy into Piedmont, where the garden will be planted by the city’s museum in the heart of town.
“We’re in hopes that it brings outside money into Piedmont,” Clark said.
Sims and Clark are not working alone. They have formed The Learning Farm, a budding nonprofit, which will plan the project.
The Learning Farm is operated by a seven-member board, which includes Sims and Clark. Clark said the other members of the board are Tim Smith, owner of Apple A Day in Gadsden; Doris Moon of Piedmont; Mary Fagan, who does community charity work; Ed Hanson, a former Piedmont City Council member; Jody Parker, an organic farmer; and Heather Ray, who ran the Zinn Park Farmer’s Market.
The first phase of the project is slated to be complete by the end of spring, but Clark said he wasn’t certain that the organizers would meet that deadline.
When the first phase is completed, it will be developed on about one-fourth of an acre of land. Developers plan to build an edible perennial boarder and 22 raised beds for the first phase of the project.
Once the second phase is completed, the garden will comprise more than one acre of land.
The farm’s development will be costly, Clark said. That’s because developers are striving to receive organic certification from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The steps farmers must take to qualify for the federal organic certification can be costly, Clark said.
Organizers are currently trying to raise about $30,000 for the project, Clark said. He added that it may be hard to raise that money until the farm receives its nonprofit status.
The Learning Farm’s organizers have applied to become a nonprofit organization, but the application is pending. The organization has no fundraisers scheduled and it can’t compete for grants until the learning farm’s 5013C paperwork is finalized.
Clark explained how the cost for the project can mount. Each raised bed will cost between $1,200 and $1,500, depending on the materials they use to build them, he said.
For now the growers are waiting on their paper work and their funding. Clark said the sooner they receive funding, the sooner the farmers can start growing crops in Piedmont.
Staff Writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.