By John Schaffner
Tamara Nash, the director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Oglethorpe University, spoke at the second meeting of the Brookhaven Community Connection (BCC) June 9, explaining the efforts of the center to connect Oglethorpe’s students, faculty and staff to Brookhaven and other nearby communities.
Nash, who directed community programs for 10 years at Georgia Pacific, said those student connections to the community are accomplished through service learning, volunteer projects, internships and leadership development.
“One of the things we realized was that we were not taking our students into the city and providing them with opportunities to get to know the city very well,” she told those who attended the morning meeting at Hudson Grille in Brookhaven Station on Peachtree Road.
As an example of the university’s outreach to Brookhaven, Nash discussed at length the Oglethorpe-Brookhaven Community Garden, which was established on campus in February and has brought together several community organizations, including Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church, St. Martin’s Episcopal School and Brookhaven Christian Church.
Nash said Oglethorpe is the first university in the state to create a community garden.
The community garden consists of six raised beds and six small circular beds. In March a rain barrel stand was erected to supply collected rainwater for the garden. The first vegetables — broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens — were harvested April 27.
Nash said Oglethorpe Presbyterian has a small food pantry and feeds families on a weekly basis. “We donate fresh vegetables from this community garden to the food pantry to be distributed to the needy families.”
Nash said the summer crop was planted April 30 and includes beans, cabbage, okra, herbs, summer squash and tomatoes.
“The vegetables are blooming. The herbs are blooming. It is a beautiful sight to see,” she said.
In addition to urging BCC members and guests to visit the university to see the garden, Nash cited other programs designed to bring the university and community together, including the new Oglethorpe-owned sports camps, the art museum and Georgia Shakespeare.
July 31 will be a special BCC night at Georgia Shakespeare, the new organization’s first special event.
The next BCC meeting will be Tuesday, July 14, at Hudson Grille, but it will start at the new time of 8 a.m. and will end at 9:30. The speaker will be DeKalb Dist. 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader.