Senior Manager of Community Gardens Fred Conrad has been the main point of contact for the Plant A Row campaign in Georgia for years, and he has been a major supporter of community gardens since his work at the Atlanta Community Food Bank began over 20 years ago.
What you need to know.
Mission statement: Food Well Alliance is a collaborative network of growers, community and city leaders working together to build thriving community gardens and urban farms.
Go to them for: Garden workshops and resources, volunteer opportunities, grants, community garden support
Three questions with Fred Conrad of Food Well Alliance.
RD: You’ve been a major supporter of Community Gardens in metro Atlanta for many years. Why were you called to this role?
FC: I grew up in a farming community and had many volunteer opportunities. Neighbors helping neighbors. At the same time I developed a love of growing food and a lot of expertise in plant production. Community Gardens is sort of the marriage of those two things, volunteering and raising crops. With the Plant a Row for the Hungry project, there is the further and even more rewarding step of sharing your harvest with people less fortunate than yourself. I would say helping others is my calling, and community gardens are the vehicle to make that happen.
RD: What is your favorite part of the Plant A Row for the Hungry campaign?
FC: I am always inspired, and honestly very humbled, by gardeners that work so hard to get out a crop and then have the moral strength to take that crop and share it with people who are struggling at the moment. Dropping food off at a shelter, community kitchen, food pantry, or combination of those is a fast, simple transaction that is really powerful. It creates light, and warmth, it shows you care. Food Well Alliance is one of many organizations helping to spread the word about this program and it expands with every media post, every share.
RD: Who are some of your inspirations in doing this work?
FC: I was just emailing with Jeff Lowenfels who started the campaign in 1996. His inspiration is my inspiration: that there are untold numbers of people who want to do good in the world and by creating an opportunity for them - the system we have in place that enables gardeners to help, to become part of the community of concern - you let them be the heroes they already are. The other side of that coin is the sobering truth that right around the corner from each of us are people who are having a hard time of it and could use a hand. I personally don’t want anyone to go without good quality food, particularly when we are surrounded by abundance.