By Jane Nelson

In these economic times, having local sources of nutritious, affordable food is as important as providing employment opportunities. The Sustainable Mountain Living Community, a grassroots organization comprised of residents of Rabun County, Macon County and Oconee County, has developed a plan for a local sustainable agriculture/food initiative to feed the people of our mountain neighborhood. The immediate objectives of our plan are to launch wide-scale community gardening with accompanying classes in use of organic techniques, as well as to provide access to a tool “lending library”, and to establish a commercial kitchen and cannery for community use.

The Sustainable Mountain Living Community (SMLC) is founded on traditional Appalachian values of individual, family and community self-sufficiency, sustainable agricultural methods, and compassionate sharing of knowledge and resources. We are utilizing the existing networks in the public, government and private sectors, and our partners in this endeavor will thus include local schools, businesses, and organizations as well as knowledgeable citizens of all ages and physical abilities. Our initial garden location has been provided on a small private farm by Glory Seeds, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation operated by Kim Buck and Larry Jensen. Last year, Kim and Larry together with Tony Owens of Living Harvest ministry, were able to offer food to 48 families. This year, with additional participation from SMLC and others in the community, Glory Seeds wants to expand to feed more than 150 families. A project of this type could result in many wonderful benefits for the community. We anticipate at the very least, that these will include:

* Abundant, healthy food for members of the mountain community

* Opportunities for entrepreneurism and creation of cottage industries

* A renewed sense of self-empowerment (currently missing among our underemployed and underproductive citizens)

* A decrease in requests for government entitlements

* Significant reduction of burdens on local social service agencies and charities

* Intergenerational interaction and development of valuable self-sufficiency skills

* New outlets for educational exchanges

* Improved nutrition and an increase in health awareness

Nelson invites locals to join us in planting seeds for our collective future. For more information visit www.gloryseeds.org or call 706-212-0084.