In January of 2015, Dig Local, Inc and Beaches Local Food Network joined forces to better serve the community at large in their shared visions providing access to sustainably grown and local food. This united grassroots effort to change the modern food system has resulted in three community gardens, two farmers’ markets, and multiple education programs for children and adults.
Together, as Dig Local Network, we strive to connect people to better food. We believe that community gardens, farmers’ markets and accessible education are sustainable routes to a future where everyone can eat better. We think access to good nutritious food is a human right regardless of a person’s location or economic level.
We began as a small farmer’s market in a parking lot in Jacksonville Beach. Identifying a need for hands-on gardening and educational opportunities, the community garden seed was planted. By the summer of 2008, we had tilled the soil in Jarboe Park for the Beaches Community Garden and had a decently-sized farmer’s market – the Beaches Green Market – with three local farms and many other green products.
Beaches Local Food Network will be forever grateful for the hard work and commitment of our founders Gretchen Ferrell and Jonathan Felts. Gretchen and Jon, along with their beautiful daughter Opal have moved from the Beaches, but they will remain a part of the heart and soul of the Green Market and Community Garden. You might even see them from time to time at the Market!
Our goal is to create a love for growing food and hopefully grow new farmers for the future. The organization is managed by a volunteer council that works hard to maintain the Beaches Green Market and Beaches Community Garden, and offers educational workshops and programs through both of these venues. We provide free programs for children through our successful Children’s Garden.
We are thrilled with the reception and excitement of our Beaches community and are grateful to our extended volunteer network that has helped us create the garden, raise funds and manage the Green Market. And of course, many thanks to our sponsors and donors. Thank you to all!
By way of community gardens, farmers’ markets, and accessible education, Dig Local, a not-for-profit organization, works to provide communities of all economic levels a choice when faced with the ills of the modern food system.
In the United States, 69% of adults and 32% of children are overweight or obese*. These staggering statistics come as a surprise in a country that should have adequate resources to promote and provide nutritious food for its citizens. The lack of access to fresh produce combined with the perpetually decreasing number of people, especially children, who walk, run, or play outside, leads to this national problem. In an effort to slowly change these figures, Dig Local strives to ignite the connection from farm to table. Through its various projects, Dig Local works to promote an appreciation and excitement for the local food movement at the Jacksonville Beaches.
Our story began in 2010 with two AmeriCorps volunteers (Jade and Becky) with Beaches Habitat in Atlantic Beach. The two women had started seeds with some of the kids at the Jordan Park Community Center but quickly realized that there was nowhere to put the plants as they grew.
Through their shared dream and a provision of land via Beaches Habitat and the City of Atlantic Beach, this organization was started. Originally the Dutton Island Gardeners, or DIG, was made up of a few community members. Over time, it has evolved into 501c3 with a board of directors and multiple projects.
We are very grateful to the following businesses and groups that have shown their support for the mission of good food for all.