COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Columbus Botanical Garden recently declared that so far this year, it has donated 1,339 pounds of organically grown fruits and vegetables to The Food Mill Columbus, a nonprofit organization that fights against food insecurity. According to Columbus Botanical Garden Executive Director Adriana Quiñones, the food will be given to people who need it.

“We donate vegetables, just vegetables,” she said. “And then there’s other places that donate things like meat and other parts of the meal … We donate everything from radishes, corn, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, you name it, leafy greens, everything. And then The Food Mill, based on what we supply, will design a meal around that.”

Quiñones said the project is being done as a partnership between several organizations. Some meals created with the food are medically prescribed by Mercy Med, a local free clinic.

“And Mercy Med works with with some local faith-based groups,” she said. “North Highlands church, Open Door, a couple of those places that work in that community and identify people who are struggling with health issues that are directly related to their food intake. And they are people who are economically disadvantaged.”

The Columbus Botanical Garden has been growing food for The Food Mill for at least four years, Quiñones said.

“But the program really started taking off about two years ago,” she said.

Columbus Botanical Garden staff and volunteers grow all of their food from seeds, mostly on the Sally H. Adams Vegetable Terraces on-site. The organization donates food gradually in increments, about once a week. During the height of the growing season, it may donate food twice a week.

Produce is grown by staff members and volunteers at The Columbus Botanical Garden. Photo by The Columbus Botanical Garden.

The Columbus Botanical Garden grows food during every month but February.

“And so, we basically start our winter crops, start in about November, December. We start growing the winter crops. We pull everything out of the garden in February.”

The #NourishColumbus hashtag was created to bring awareness to the program.

“The whole program is under another nonprofit called UGROW … And The Food Mill is directly under the UGROW umbrella,” Quiñones said. “That’s their forward-facing part of the #NourishColumbus movement. And then the groups between Mercy Med and all the different farms that contribute to, as well as North Highlands Church, Open Door and some of the other organizations, we all work under the #NourishColumbus hashtag…”

Quiñones said a lot of people don’t realize that people go hungry in Columbus.

Olivia Amos, director of The Food Mill Columbus, said The Columbus Botanical Garden has been a good partner organization.

“We’re just very thankful for these types of collaboration in our community that are helping us reduce food insecurity,” Amos said.