Botanical Gardens Gives Fresh Produce to Athens Community

Features, News

By Charlotte Luke

This summer, the Dig and Grow area of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia bursts with delicious colors and smells: purple, red, and yellow stalks of chard, fragrant leaves of basil, tiny tomatoes budding from their vines, kale curling out of the soil.

More than 1,000 edible plants grown from seed by the Garden’s greenhouse manager, Melanie Parker, were planted in January 2018. Today, Dig and Grow is a thriving source of fresh vegetables and herbs and an important opportunity for “children [to] learn at an early age that vegetables don’t come from the grocery store originally,” said Ann Frierson, an advisory board member of the Botanical Garden for three decades.

But in addition to providing an “edible gardening experiential learning gallery,” said Cora Keber, Director of Education at the Botanical Garden, Dig and Grow provides fresh produce for people in the Athens community.

After the grand opening of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden in March, the Botanical Garden partnered with Campus Kitchen, a student-run hunger relief program of the UGA Office of Service-Learning. Specifically, much of the produce grown in the Dig and Grow area of the Children’s Garden supports Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a program through Campus Kitchen in which participants receive pre-made meals and a bag of fresh produce each week.

“We have donated hundreds of pounds of produce since opening in March and will continue to provide to our community whether it be through tasting in the garden, our programs or meals and produce provided by Campus Kitchen,” said Ms. Keber.

Dig and Grow and the Botanical Garden cultivate food and educational experiences, but Ann Frierson said she also envisions the Garden as a nice escape for visitors.

“The beauty of this garden is that it exposes people to nature which is becoming something harder and harder to experience as we become a concrete jungle, and to be able to get out within nature is critical to everyone’s state of mind.”

The grounds of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia are open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

How Words Shape Self-Image


By Charlotte Luke

“I look so bad in that picture.”

“I wish my eyelashes were as long as yours.”

“I shouldn’t have this ice cream.”

I hear people, particularly women, disparage their appearances constantly, or compare themselves unfavorably to others. In fact, I cannot remember the last time someone admitted to me that they looked good in a photograph, while nearly everyone I encounter swears they have no photogenic qualities.

I’ve heard friends complain about the length of their faces, the shape of their fingernails, the speed of their metabolism—virtually every aspect of their faces and bodies, inside and out. Interestingly, I often get the sense that people self-deprecate in order to fit in, as if they are afraid that confidence will be perceived as arrogance. In this case, self-deprecation becomes a “funny” competition among friends:

Who is the ugliest?

Who is the fattest?

Who has the worst skin coloring?

But when people point out so-called flaws in themselves, I can’t help but think they begin to believe their appearances are truly flawed, so they use concealer, Photoshop and weight loss programs in order to feel good.

I use “they” as opposed to “we” because about a year ago, I decided to stop playing the self-deprecation game. Before I consciously made this change, I wore powder to cover up acne scars, I dreaded school picture day, I used special shampoo to combat my frizzy hair; when friends commented on themselves, I jumped in with, “No, at least you look better than me.” But to be honest, my habit of pointing out flaws grew tiresome; I wanted to feel good in the person I naturally am, so I learned to hold my tongue when I saw photos of myself or looked in the mirror with my friends.

The effect was not immediate, but I found that when I stopped vocalizing my negative remarks, I stopped seeing as many “flaws” in my appearance. I feel comfortable going without makeup, I feel comfortable telling others I like photographs of my face and body, and for the most part I’ve stopped comparing myself to others in ways that degrade myself.

I just wish it weren’t so uncommon to find people who also understand that our words can become our true perceptions of ourselves, even if we claim to celebrate our appearances.

Because you look good in that picture.

Because your eyelashes are beautiful.

Because you can have this ice cream.