By Mimi Wood, Island Eye News Staff Writer
Photos by Steve Rosamilia
January 2010 found Goat Islanders Diann and Dennis Clark brainstorming with longtime friends Morgan and Shane Ziegler, in an effort to help Haiti, suffering the effects of devastating earthquake.
Thus Hope on Goat, a charity fundraiser held every March, was conceived. And while the history of Hope on Goat is as fascinating as the little island itself, this story really lies with Germaine Jenkins, who found herself smack-dab in the middle of Goat Island this past Saturday, March 24, 2017, with her own brainchild, Fresh Future Farm, as the beneficiary of the Eighth Annual event.
“We take turns picking a different organization every year,” explained Morgan Ziegler, who, along with her husband Shane, have owned and operated Barrier Island Eco Tours for the past 18 years. The Zieglers provided the complimentary shuttle to and from the IOP Marina to the landing at Goat Island Gatherings, where the Clarks operate a special event venue. “The work she does is inspirational and selfless,” Diann Clark says of Germaine Jenkins.
“She’s starting a grassroots movement that is going to empower and nourish a lot of people. She’s lifting people up.”
Jenkins moved back to her native South Carolina around 2002, as a single mother with two young children. A full-time student, she soon found her family in public housing, using food stamps for groceries. “The next 12 years are are blur,” Jenkins says.
That blur includes numerous degrees and designations; from Johnson and Wales, Clemson Extension, and her most coveted, a “certification in Commercial Urban Agriculture from Growing Power,” a national non-profit whose goal is to make farming simple, replicable and accessible to all communities.
The blur also included a series of volunteer and paying jobs, all involving gardening, nutrition, and community involvement.
“I became passionate about nutrition,” Jenkins confides, “sneaking 10 different vegetables into the spaghetti sauce I was preparing” in conjunction with an after-school program.
Ultimately, “through a series of miraculous events,” Jenkins landed a five-year lease on a .82 tract of vacant land from the city of North Charleston. There, in the heart of the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood, blooms Fresh Future Farm and Grocery Store.
It’s hard to determine which is brighter, the vibrant turquoise color of the store, or the dazzling smile that epitomizes Jenkins’ dynamic personality.
Energy and enthusiasm are definitely two of Jenkin’s strong suits. “Like any entrepreneur, Germaine is in love with her own idea,” opines John Bukofser, who, along with Karen Latsbaugh, a Mt. Pleasant resident, comprise one-half of FFF’s Board of Directors.
In addition to the farm and store, Jenkins offers cooking classes, gardening classes, and farm tours. “One hundred percent of the funds go back into the neighborhood through her garden and educational programs,” Clark says.
Fresh Future Farm was part of the Charleston Food & Wine Festival held in early March, 2017.
Notable chefs from Chicago, San Francisco and Columbia, SC, utilizing many of the farm’s crops in their fare, served on location at 2008 Success St. in North Charleston.
Jamie Zazella, an IOP resident, “heard Germaine speak at Pecha Kucha,” an evening of speakers presented in conjunction with the Charleston Food and Wine. “I decided then to offer my support by attending Hope on Goat.”
Once accounted, Ziegler approximates 250 Hope on Goaters will have raised $15,000 to benefit Fresh Future Farm, between ticket sales, silent and live auction items, and donations.