Forsyth Community Gardening launched the Community Garden Mentorship Program in 2016. Gregory said 49 mentors have helped with 48 gardens. Mentors help start community gardens, organize leadership, support horticulture, and educate others involved in the community garden.
In addition to founding Forsyth Community Gardening, the county also launched an urban agricultural school in 2016 aimed at teaching unemployed and underemployed residents in struggling areas of the county, said Mary Jac Brennan, extension worker for small farms and local foods.
The Urban Farm School is a 12-week program where students learn and practice agriculture, business management, and marketing. Local farmers teach classes and organize field trips to their farms.
The school had four students in its pilot program in the spring and 10 students in the fall program. Of the 14 students, nine cultivate or create farms to continue learning and practicing urban agriculture.
“For all of our graduates, this was their first encounter with cooperative extension,” Brennan said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. Graduates pass the information on to their community.
Brennan said she hopes urban agriculture will increase access to fresh produce.