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MGHC Wins 2011 Search For Excellence Award

The Hamilton County Master Gardeners won the coveted 2011 Tennessee Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award in the Demonstration Garden category for the Evelyn Davenport Navarre Teaching Garden at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.

The Evelyn Davenport Navarre (EDN) Teaching Garden, located at 2009 Curtain Pole Road, Chattanooga, TN 37406 is an approved U. T. Demonstration Garden and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Chattanooga Area Food Bank (CAFB) and the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County (MGHC).  EDN Teaching Garden is built on land donated by the City of Chattanooga and its 22 – 4′ by 8′ raised beds were built by MGHC members using materials donated by Habitat for Humanity of Chattanooga.  The garden production, sale of plants, and teaching activities are coordinated by CAFB’s Garden Coordinator with MGHC members providing over 5,000 hours each year in volunteer time.  The goals for this demonstration garden are to (1) grow healthy food to supplement CAFB’s food distribution programs to the indigent and (2) teach citizens, especially those in need, how to grow vegetables in the most healthy and responsible manner.

The demonstration garden’s production in 2011 provided a significant positive health and economic boon to the indigent community.  In 2010, the garden raised and distributed over 800 pounds of fresh, organically grown vegetables that were added to CAFB’s Food Box program, with over 2,500 families receiving produce during the growing season (economic).  In 2011, the garden produced an amazing 2,013 pounds of fresh vegetables — over a ton and 2 1/2 times the previous year’s production — all distributed to needy families.

The Education/Teaching activities in 2011 were also vigorous: 26 workshops presented to a total of 361 participants. Attendees included CAFB clients, hunger relief agency workers, community garden organizers, church leaders, school teachers, master gardeners and members of the general public. The relationship between attendees and instructors is ongoing with many participants continuing to ask for consultation and advice.  In particular, community gardens such as Bethlehem Center, St. Albans, New Covenant Baptist Church, Mitchell Garden, Hart Garden, The Giving Garden, New City Fellowship, Northside Neighborhood House children’s garden, House of Souls garden (run by city for the homeless) continue to receive advice and support from EDN Teaching Garden staff and volunteers as well as seedlings, raised beds and other surplus from EDN.

As a Tennessee Master Gardener award winner, the Evelyn Davenport Navarre Teaching Garden project is eligible for consideration by the International Master Gardeners for the 2012 International Search for Excellence Awards.

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