SEEDS has more room to grow

Jun. 01, 2014 @ 08:26 PM

The Pie Social at SEEDS was about more than just pie Sunday. It helped celebrate the grand opening of the non-profit’s newly expanded building.

Members of the community converged on the site at Gilbert and Elizabeth streets to help the non-profit taste the fruits of the season and get a look at the renovated area.

“We took a 100-year-old space that hadn’t been well maintained and created a sustainable space that we can grow our programs in,” said Emily Egge, executive director of SEEDS. “We can take our programs and really allow them to grow.”

SEEDS -- South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces -- is an urban educational garden that teaches sustainable agriculture practices and organic gardening. It works to promote principles of food security and environmental stewardship by working with and teaching the community.

Annie Kenan cofounded SEEDS in 1994. Since its inception, SEEDS has partnered with the Phoenix House, Durham Inner-City Gardeners (DIG) and many others to promote its goals and aid local farmers.

The renovated site expands the original 3,200 sqare feet to 5,000 square feet.

Egge said that the new space boasts several earth-friendly features including the cisterns that collect rain water, LED lights that are on timers and have dimmers, dual flush toilets and solar panels on the roof.

There is now a teaching kitchen at SEEDS, a larger pantry area and a walk-in freezer where farmers can store their produce prior to going to the farmers’ market or using it for a class.

“This space will allow us to complete the cycle of food from seed to the plate where we couldn’t before,” Egge said. “We’ll start with our current programs then re-envision them and fully utilize this space.

“Over the next several years we will be adding and altering programs as we go,” said Egge. “The culture of food and access to food changes and continues to change and we have to be able to adapt to that.”

On hand for the grand opening and garland cutting was Brenda Brodie, co-founder of SEEDS.

“It’s really a dream come true,” Brodie said. “With this new space, we can not only grow the food but cook it and eat it here. I love connecting people to the land. We hope to touch more and more people and soon everyone will grow a bit of their own food. You have a better respect for the farmer.”

Also part of the celebration was a silent auction. Visitors could bid on various services offered throughout the community. Among the services being auctioned off were an ice-cream-making class taught by Vanessa Mazuz, a class by Lindsay Perry of Full Flower Herbs on how to forage for wild food, a cooking lesson with James Naquin and a guitar playing class with Keith Guile.