ALT Vice-President Lara Mathes (left) presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to Helen Kuykendall, a Master Gardener and Landscape Architect who volunteered more than 90 hours last year with the Junior Master Gardener Program at Pinewood North Mobile Home Park. The 46 young gardeners ranged in age from pre-school to middle school. Helen used her expertise to design the garden based on the children’s drawings of what they wanted. She helped with the curriculum, conducted a field trip to the Hill First Baptist Garden, and showed the children how to garden. The young gardeners named themselves the Pinewood Green Rangers, and we are grateful for the impact of Helen’s dedication and enthusiasm.
A second Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Shannon Mikus, or Miko, who has a Masters in Landscape Architecture, Miko interned with ALT last summer for 3 months and helped with both the Land Conservation Program and several Community Gardens. Miko was a very dedicated and committed volunteer.
The 2012 Garden of the Year Award was given to Athena Gardens Community Garden. Lara presented the golden pitchfork to one of the resident gardeners Ray, and Deborah Colella, Property Manager. In March 2012, a garden with 14 raised beds was established at Athena Gardens Retirement Community. The residents and staff cooperatively share responsibility for maintaining their community garden. Produce from their harvests are regularly enjoyed through communal meals that Athena folks prepare in the facility’s kitchen.
Virginia and Carrol Beavers received the Conservation Easement Donor of the Year Award. They have donated a perpetual conservation easement protecting 49 acres in Athens-Clarke County (behind the Boulevard Neighborhood). The property includes streams that flow into the North Oconee River and an informal network of bike trails. They are generously allowing Athens Land Trust to provide public access for the community with walking and biking trails and an urban farm. Lara Mathes presented them with a framed rendering of the Master Plan for the property that was created by Kevan Williams and Zach Richardson, who are in the Landscape Architecture Department.
The Alec Little Award honored the Community Garden movement in Athens by recognizing the Hill First Baptist Church Garden Team and UGA professor David Berle. A very successful community garden was started about five years ago on Pope Street by members of Hill First Baptist Church and community volunteers. The workers cleared a kudzu- and trash-choked ravine and turned the area into a lush garden that provides produce for community residents. Work on the Pope Street community garden began in 2008 under the leadership of Karen Witten, a retired doctor who had moved to the neighborhood the previous year, and Tommy Lewis Chester, a homeless man in the neighborhood. Neighborhood volunteers cleared the ravine, and built a garden that has become a showpiece and produces a bounty of vegetables for residents. Supported by the Hill First Baptist Church Garden Team, with permission to garden granted by land owners Faisal Anwar, Miss Carey Wise and the church, the garden includes a composting site and a “museum” of old objects unearthed by the work. Pictured above are church member Jewell Barnett (left) and Mayor Nancy Denson. David Berle, a UGA faculty member since 1999, involves his students in helping the Athens community by making service learning an integral component of his teaching program. He envisioned the Community Garden Network and helped Athens Land Trust obtain federal funding for a Community Garden Network that provides seeds, plants, tools and instruction for gardens. He and his students have provided about 10,000 hours of volunteer labor at local schools and at the 15 community gardens in a mobile home park, at the Athens Area Council on Aging and in low-income neighborhoods. He also started Project FOCUS, a partnership between UGA and the Clarke County School District, to teach children about gardening and nutrition and has established a farm on the campus of Clarke Middle School. The Alec Little Environmental Award was established in 1991 as the first major prize that recognizes individuals and organizations for environmental responsibility in the Athens area. The award is named for the late John A. (Alec) Little, who worked closely with many environmental organizations in Georgia. Thirty-two people and 14 groups have received the award since it was first presented in 1992. ALT, along with Skipper Stipe Maas, Nancy Stangle, and Laura Hall, received the Award in 2002. Alfie Vick, Associate Professor at UGA’s School of Environment and Design and also ALT Treasurer, received an award for Outstanding Faculty Member from the UGA Office of Sustainability for his many contributions.