Organic Gardening for Atlanta’s Hungry

Organic Gardening for Atlanta’s Hungry

“GOOD, FRESH FOOD IS A REMINDER OF WHAT THEY LOVE.” JF&CS staff volunteers enjoy working in the Giving Garden. L-R: Debbie Cohen, Accounts Receivable Manager, Debbi Dooley, Case Manager in Aviv Older Adult Services – Tools for Aging, and Debi McNeil, CFO.


With help from the famous “Farmer D” (Daron Joffe) and the Jewish Food Alliance (JFA), and thanks to an enthusiastic collection of volunteers and staff, JF&CS launched the Giving Garden at our Dunwoody location in July 2010. The organically grown “fruits” of their labors (actually, more like vegetables) are given to JF&CS clients or other community members in-need. Since inception, the Giving Garden has grown nearly 1,300 pounds of organic produce, which has supported almost 350 people with food like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, collards, okra, kale, zucchini and much more.

Debbi Dooley, MS, serves as one of the JF&CS staff backbones of the Giving Garden, along with Debi McNeil, CFO, and Jason Seabolt, Facilities Manager. Dooley, a case manager in Aviv Older Adult Services – Tools for Aging, is one of the clinicians who provides fresh produce harvested in the garden to some of her clients. “We do so many things for people here at JF&CS,” she said. “We try to address a person’s well-being in the services we provide. Food is such an important part of who were are. So when we ask people if they have enough money to buy fresh food and the answer is no, it is so meaningful to be able to give food that we ourselves harvested.”

Dooley has many heartwarming stories of clients who have benefited greatly from the garden. One client is a full-time caregiver for her mother living with Alzheimer’s disease. She is unable to work and has no income, so the fresh organic produce she enjoys, like collard greens, would not be possible without the Giving Garden. Another client is an avid gardener who lost her home, along with her beloved backyard garden. When she found out she would be benefiting from the garden, she requested to harvest the produce she would receive. “Good fresh food is a reminder of what they love,” Dooley said.

Editor’s note: The Giving Garden provides volunteer opportunities to the community as well as JF&CS staff members. For information about how you can get involved, visit 

read more: