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Community Garden Opens in Americus As Part of a New Community Health Collaboration

Americus, Ga. – Community partners are collaborating on a new effort to improve the health and wellness of people in Americus and Sumter County.  The initiative, called Healthy Sumter, will target three of the most serious local health problems: food deserts/unhealthy eating, colorectal cancer and suicide.  “Every three years, Phoebe Sumter completes a Community Health Needs Assessment,” said Brandi Lunneborg, Phoebe Sumter Chief Executive Officer.  “We take a deep dive into health data to identify threats to the wellbeing of the people in our community, and then implement projects to address those problems.  Community buy-in is critical to our success, and Healthy Sumter will be a visible and active way for people in the community to help address these critical health needs identified through our 2020 assessment.”

One of the organization’s early projects, and its largest healthy eating project, is the Healthy Sumter Community Garden at Brookdale Park, a partnership between Phoebe Sumter, the City of Americus and Flint River Fresh.  Leaders from throughout the community came together Saturday morning for an official ribbon cutting at the garden.  “It’s a blessing from God to be able to serve people,” Americus Mayor Pro Tem Nelson Brown told the crowd at the event.  “Everything you see here is about service.  We need people to stay engaged and make the effort to come back and make this park what it needs to be,” he said.

Flint River Fresh (FRF) – an Albany-based non-profit dedicated to increasing access to fresh, local, affordable, healthy food and teaching people how to grow their own produce – will lead efforts to plant, maintain and harvest the garden.  But FRF will depend on local volunteers.  Executive Director Fredando Jackson is a Sumter County native and is excited to give people in the community a chance to join FRF’s mission.  “I’m here to recruit workers.  This garden will not grow without hands to plant the seeds.  This is designed to be here for years to come,” Jackson said.

The city of Americus provided the land for the garden at Brookdale Park on the northwest side of town and equipped the garden area with water lines to ensure good irrigation.  “Access to healthy food is a quality of life issue.  We want people to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and hopefully this garden will lead to more gardens and more activities that will improve the lives of people in our community,” said Americus Mayor Barry Blount.

Healthy Sumter’s slogan is “Healthy Starts Here.”  A new website,, will include information about healthy eating and exercise, colorectal cancer prevention, mental health resources and more.  “We’ll have a community events section on the site, and we’re planning to develop a mobile app and start a Facebook page so people throughout the county can really engage with Healthy Sumter and share projects and activities they’re doing to promote healthy living,” Lunneborg said.  “We want to reach out to our entire community and address our minds and our bodies.  We want everyone to benefit from what we can accomplish together.”

One of the many organizations supporting Healthy Sumter is One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, a community-wide initiative to support and enhance economic activity in Sumter County.  “One Sumter is excited to partner with Healthy Sumter because we know a healthy community is a vibrant, growing and economically successful community.  The community garden is the first really visible project for Healthy Sumter, and we look forward to many more collaborations to ensure a healthier future for our community,” said Ivy Oliver, One Sumter Executive Director.

In addition to One Sumter, Phoebe Sumter, the City of Americus and Flint River Fresh, other Healthy Sumter partners include:

  • Americus Police Department
  • Americus & Sumter County Parks & Recreation Department
  • Americus Sumter Tourism
  • Americus Times Recorder
  • Boys & Girls Clubs
  • Congressman Sanford Bishop
  • Georgia Southwestern State University
  • Harvest of Hope
  • Housing Authority of Americus
  • K.E.Y.S. 2 Transformation
  • Middle Flint Behavioral Healthcare
  • Perry Wellness Center
  • South Georgia Technical College
  • Southwest Georgia Children’s Alliance
  • Sumter Area Ministerial Alliance
  • Sumter County Board of Commissioners
  • Sumter County Emergency Management
  • Sumter County Extension Agency
  • Sumter County Family Connection
  • Sumter County Health Department
  • Sumter County Schools
  • Sumter County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sumter Literacy