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Farmer Fredo receives congressional recognition

Americus native, Fredando Jackson, known better as Farmer Fredo, has been acknowledged as one of Atlanta Braves’ Community Heroes for 2021. The Braves choose the heroes based upon their community impact. The Braves describe their mission to acknowledge individuals and service providers as, “Recognizing, honoring and supporting service in our communities and to our country is a core value of Braves Care. Honoring our active military and veterans, recognizing individuals working in our communities to have an impact on the lives of others, and providing opportunities for our employees, players and fans to engage in service programs that enrich our communities are all ways that we seek to build on the value of service across the Braves organization and Braves Country.”

Fredo was chosen for various reasons, one of which is the work he does to bring education and hands in the dirt experiences. He is passionate about fresh food, from seed to plate. You can see a fine example of his work at Brookdale Park. The City of Americus was pleased to join in partnership with Pheobe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC) to house a community garden in the park. The garden is kept by volunteers, will offer fresh and seasonal produce to citizens and serves as a place where the community can come to grow in healthy minds, healthy bodies and healthy relationships with neighbors. Fredo’s expertise makes him the go-to guy to keep the mission rolling. Fredo can often be found breaking down the science of food to concepts even the greenest of gardeners can practice. On June 10, 2021, Fredo introduced himself by saying, “I am Farmer Fredo and growing food is what I am about.” Fredo then presented a fun tutorial on how to plant a bucket garden. The vegetable of the day was okra and before the lessons began, Fredo reminded us of a southerner’s love of okra in our gumbo, in our peas, fried, pickled, stewed and in other various ways. He told us our okra plants will offer a harvest from August to November and our excitement grew. Just as child’s anticipation when putting a seed into a Styrofoam cup, the group watched Fredo take a five-gallon bucket and plant the beginning of magic. The group was then provided all the supplies needed, from bucket to seed, to take home and begin their own journey. Farmer Fredo made sure we knew there was a standing invitation for others to join in the garden’s efforts. “We want to make sure our neighbors know what we are doing in the community, but also if there are other community partners who want to be engaged, let them know. We are Flint River Fresh and Healthy Sumter, and our vision is to make sure that Sumter County is one of the healthiest counties in State of Georgia and beyond.” In addition to the gifts related to a bucket garden, each guest received a  PSMC black tote bag filled with enough fruit and vegetables to make for several healthy meals. PSMC’s community garden and Farmer Fredo bring an excitement of waiting in hope for a grand payoff. There is learning, there is working, there is community, there is growing into a healthier version of ourselves. Because of such an investment Farmer Fredo has been honored.

Mayor Barry Blount and Sheila Hambrick enjoy the company at Healthy Sumter’s community garden

However, the Braves were not the only ones who see the goodness in Farmer Fredo. Representative Sanford Bishop acknowledged Fredo with a letter of appreciation for his efforts. Tammye Pettyjohn Jones read Bishop’s letter to the farmer. After congratulations on receiving the Community Hero acknowledgment from the Braves, Bishop added his own appreciation. “I salute you for your diligent work as you are one of the exceptional individuals, selected to participate in this effort. You have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and your commendable efforts have enhanced the quality of life for those in the immediate and surrounding areas throughout Southwest Georgia.” Farmer Fredo humbly accepted the letter in gratitude, then went about with his farming efforts.

A group of neighbors gather to learn from Farmer Fredo

PSMC’s CEO was on hand to celebrate the day. Brandi Lunneborg expresses excitement over the garden and its potential. She is quick to point out a community who has access to fresh fruits and vegetables threatens the growth of obesity related disease. Eating healthy can improve various conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Brandi also sees the power in a collaborative effort. She is appreciative of those who have partnered together to see the community garden come to fruition. Another PSMC employee, Marcus Johnson, invites volunteers to come out to the garden. The investment in the garden can be informal, such as showing up to do a little weeding, or can be a part of a formalized effort. Marcus will be leading a charge of volunteers as the days progress. Marcus remarks, “If you or your organization would like to volunteer at the garden for things such as maintenance, planting, etc., please contact me at mjohnson@phoebehealth.com. If you would like to visit the garden it is located at 1020 Park Row Extension in Americus. The garden is located in Brookdale Park. The garden can be visited during daylight hours. To learn more about a healthy lifestyle, particularly for Southwest Georgians, please invest your time learning about Healthy Sumter. Their website is healthysumter.com.

Healthy Sumter makes an invitation to residents