“They had lines for suggestions on the water bill,” Hines said. “I would get out my Sharpie, and I would write three things. One was curbside recycling; two, bicycle lanes; three, farmers market.”
Hines continued the ritual every month for a year.
“All I could think of is pick one and work on it,” said Hines, who honed in on starting a farmers market. “You have to stop expecting and just start acting.”
Shortly thereafter, Hines met Bob and Jan Perry, who had started a small co-op between neighbors and local farmers in the front yard of their Harlem home. The organization’s name was Augusta Locally Grown.
The organization, which originated in 2007 as an online farmers market, is now approaching 100 local growers and has spawned educational programs designed to promote healthy eating habits for children and adults. “I love, love telling stories of the community,” Hines said. “I just tell the stores. I love telling farmers’ stories.”
That passion initially led Hines to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a journalist. The Illinois native graduated from the University of Missouri with a journalism degree but soon realized she had difficulty remaining objective.
“I felt really strongly about some issues, more strongly than a journalist is allowed to,” said Hines, referencing environmental topics such as the emergence of ethanol as a biofuel. “I saw it pretty early on when I was covering some pretty intense stories and realized I had a bias for the community in general.”
Hines shifted her career into the nonprofit sector. She and her husband, Christopher, spent a decade working on a 600-acre dairy farm in Massachusetts that provides rehabilitation for people suffering from mental illness.
The family moved to Hawaii in 2000 so Hines’ husband, a chief psychiatrist at Fort Gordon, could complete his medical residency in the Army. Hines worked on the island for a small nonprofit school and helped start
a camp to get children thinking of solutions for social issues.
Hines has continued to educate others in Georgia.
“Her biggest goal right now is education,” said friend Laurie Ritchie, who operates J&L Farms and Stables in Hephzibah. “She educates not only the children about nutritional eating but the adults as well.”
By holding cooking camps and classes, Hines is able to show community members that eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot, Ritchie said.
Hines hopes the ventures can aid in the community’s introduction to new concepts of growing food.
“I’m not a purist,” Hines said. “I love to have big meals with family or go out. What always kind of confuses me is how we got to the point where young people don’t eat vegetables or fruits. I think that what has happened is that we’ve lost a love of food, and a love of food occurs when you have a natural connection to it.”