Last week Justin Maddox and I traveled to my alma mater, Auburn University, where we spoke to an audience of Civic Engagement students led by Mark Wilson. Mark and Nan Fairley run the "Living Democracy" program which sends students into a rural community for a summer internship-of-sorts where the students participate in community service endeavors, live with a resident of the community and write about their experiences. Elba has been fortunate enough to have received students for the past three summers. Jelani Moore, our student from this past summer, joined us in class where we shared the story of Restoration 154, our mission, our dreams, our challenges and our motivations.
We also had an opportunity to attend a "campus conversation" meeting where we discussed the book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind". It's a great story about a boy from Malawi who grows up with very little, but manages to teach himself how to construct a windmill, which provided electricity to his home and later to construct another one that provided irrigation to crops. His story parallels our own in that we are trying to building something where there are so few resources. I'm so proud of Philip and Justin and the work they have done with Pea River Outdoors. It's bringing in TOURISTS to ELBA! Again, creating something where before there was very little...
I had such a nice time visiting Auburn and hope that we can continue to strengthen the relationship with them in the future.
We are beyond thrilled with the progress that has been made at The Giving Garden to date! The garden site is located on Putnam Street in downtown Elba behind the old jail and Folsom House. The project has been in the works for some time now and started with the donation the land to Restoration 154 by the City of Elba. A committee of community activists and seasoned gardeners was formed to work out the details. A matching funds grant was secured, which helped to provide the funds for the garden along with the following sponsors: Westside Baptist Church, Covenant Community Church, Elba Church of Christ, Tim Williams, Wiregrass Weddings, Coffee County Extension Service, Master Gardeners, Charlie Hayes and Heath Wyrosdick and Black Gold Soil.
Soil was purchased and delivered to the site last week and then Saturday, the planting began! We had groups from the Enterprise High School FFA, Elba High School FFA, 4-H, Coffee County Extension Service, Master Gardeners, Restoration 154, Elba Church of Christ, Wiregrass Weddings and Covenant Community Church that came together to work at our first Planting Day. Crop signs were donated from Rusty's Feed and Seed and seeds from the Coffee County Coop in Curtis. People came from Brantley, Enterprise, New Brockton and, of course, Elba, to get the garden off to a good start.