The winter growing season has been prolific! The cold nights and sunny days have given us a bug and disease free growing season. We have had a steady crop of kale, collard greens, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, peas and lots of fragrant winter herbs.

Over the past few months we have been working on a new project, partnering with the City of Atlantic Beach, The Clinton Foundation Health Matters Initiative, Jacksonville University, and Atlantic Beach Urban Farms to bring a weekly farmers market to Mayport residents. Mayport has been identified as a “food desert” by the USDA; indicating a low-income area with limited access to healthy food due to the absence of grocery stores and limited access to transportation. The Atlantic Beach City Market opened February 17 and BEAM participated with a wonderful selection of Grace Garden produce available for sale. We are proud to be able to offer fresh, healthy food to our Mayport clients. In addition, shoppers who use SNAP or EBT will be able to double their benefits to purchase up to $20 of locally grown produce each week. We envision the new market, located at the southwest corner of Mayport Road and Dutton Island Road, as a gathering place for the entire community. Please come by and check it out!

With a new spring growing season approaching we are busy starting our tomato and pepper seeds in the greenhouse, as well as planting potatoes outside. Next we will start squash and cucumber followed by eggplant and okra. Remember, volunteering in Grace Garden is a great way to hone (or develop) your gardening skills. Please consider volunteering. You’ll learn a lot and have a great time!