Austin Business Community Helps Build First Teaching Garden and Cooking/Nutrition Center in Central Texas

More than 600 volunteers from 23 local companies and affiliates join together to support nonprofit Sustainable Food Center

Each year, Austin-area businesses give back to the local community through the annual Entrepreneurs Foundation Spring Service Day. Considered one of the largest annual volunteer efforts in Austin, this year’s event is being held today, during which more than 600 volunteers from 23 local companies and their affiliates – including lead sponsor Convio, an Austin-based company recently acquired by Blackbaud – will help build the Sustainable Food Center's(SFC) first teaching garden in central Texas.

"Convio has always taken the lead in corporate citizenship here in Austin,” said Eugene Sepulveda, CEO of the Entrepreneurs Foundation. “And today, 95 of their team members are leading an additional 500 volunteers from 23 companies in giving back. Heck, more than giving back – building and creating. The best companies in Austin nurture their corporate souls in ways that improve Austin."

Located on 2.3 acres of land donated by the Meredith family in the Chestnut neighborhood of East Austin, the community garden will serve local and area residents with an abundance of fresh, healthy food options and educational resources. The teaching garden is part of a larger development in East Austin geared toward a sustainable model of living and working. The Spring Service Day volunteers will lay the foundation for the garden’s planting to begin as early as Fall 2012. The garden will be part of a program that includes a commercial kitchen and nutrition center.

Studies show that in the United States there are actually more obese than starving children. With obesity strongly linked as a contributor of cancer, SFC’s mission is to provide a comprehensive “seed to table” approach to strengthen the local Austin food system. “We can’t express our gratitude enough to the Austin community,” said Ronda Rutledge, executive director of the Sustainable Food Center. “We’ve had this vision for a teaching garden as part of our permanent site for many years. I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to accomplish it with the help of so many wonderful volunteers and community partners!”

Highlights of the Community and Teaching Garden:

  • 2.3 acres located in east Austin, with rich fertile soil for food production
  • Dedicated area for East Austin low-income families to grow affordable, nutritious food and engage in family-focused activities
  • SFC’s Community Garden Leadership trainings, empowering neighborhood groups to start and sustain community gardens near their homes and hands-on food gardening classes, including bilingual Basic Organic Gardening and Citizen Gardener classes
  • A vibrant context for school children to learn about agricultural production and the food system on educational field trips
  • Space for community partners like Theatre Action Project, Foundation Communities and Open Door Preschool to adopt community garden plots to use in their programming

"What Spring Service Day is all about is completely aligned to our philosophy and mission as a company,” said Gene Austin, former Convio president and now president of Blackbaud’s enterprise customer business unit. “We have identified a handful of tenets that we strive to live by as a company, and giving back to our local community is key among them."

In addition to its food gardening and cooking/nutrition education programs, SFC operates the yearround SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown at Republic Square Park (founded 2003), SFC Farmers’ Market at The Triangle (2007), SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley (2010) and SFC Farmers’ Market East (2012). The markets Downtown and at Sunset Valley operate Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm, The Triangle market operates 3 to 7 pm Wednesdays (changing to 4 to 8 pm for Mar. to Sept. for summer hours) and the East market operates 10 am to 1 pm Tuesdays.

About Entrepreneurs Foundation
The Entrepreneurs Foundation (EF) promotes philanthropy and community involvement among emerging-growth companies and entrepreneurs. EF programs connect member companies with their communities, help build successful corporate cultures, and allow start-up companies to participate philanthropically, even though charitable funds might be scarce.

About Sustainable Food Center
Sustainable Food Center cultivates a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. SFC envisions a food secure community where all children and adults grow, share and prepare healthy, local food. For more information about the markets, see www.sfcfarmersmarket.org. Also see www.sustainablefoodcenter.org.

About Blackbaud
Serving the nonprofit and education sectors for 30 years, Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) combines technology and expertise to help organizations achieve their missions. Blackbaud works with more than 27,000 customers in over 60 countries that support higher education, healthcare, human services, arts and culture, faith, the environment, independent K-12 education, animal welfare, and other charitable causes. The company offers a full spectrum of cloud-based and on-premise software solutions and related services for organizations of all sizes including: fundraising, eMarketing, social media, advocacy, constituent relationship management (CRM), analytics, financial management, and vertical-specific solutions. Using Blackbaud technology, these organizations raise more than $100 billion each year. Recognized as a top company by Forbes, InformationWeek, and Software Magazine and honored by Best Places to Work, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina and has employees throughout the US, and in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.blackbaud.com.

Press Contact:
Karoline McLaughlin
Director, Corporate Communications

Austin Business Community Helps Build First Teaching Garden and Cooking/Nutrition Center in Central Texas | Convio