Good things growing in Beaufort County

Published 3:21 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

Since March, Bill Booth can be seen around the county with his John Deere tractor, plowing up fields for community gardens.

As part of an initiative for a healthier community, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and MDC have funded his position through Beaufort County Community College to help set up community gardens throughout the county. To date there are three in Washington: one for Vidant Beaufort hospital employees and patients; one for the Boys & Girls Club; and a set of raised beds at a Washington Housing Authority complex. Around the county, there is one in Blounts Creek, one in Pantego and one at Acre Station in Pinetown. Booth is also cultivating and training volunteers who work in 31 private and public gardens in Beaufort County.

In just a short time, Booth, whose official title is the healthy eating community organizer, has developed materials and strategies that will teach people how to manage their own gardens, gather produce, harvest the crops and feed many people. BCCC also partnered with Asbury Church to hire an agribusiness intern through the Rural Communities Conservation Fund to help them manage their raised beds and Ruby’s Garden. The harvest is delivered to children in the summer food program, Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry and to the college for students.

Through the position, funders hope to improve access to nutritional foods and reduce some of the negative health problems affecting county residents. Access to healthy food is often hindered physically, through lack of mobility and transportation, or financially. The position will inspire a community approach to putting unused spaces into food production and improving health outcomes across Beaufort County.