Patti Pots finds light in the darkness

Colorfully painted with flowers terracotta pots on display at a local farmer's market

Patti Smith is a local small business owner and the namesake of Patti Pots. Her business? Painting Patti Pots of course! Patti Pots are terra-cotta pots that have found new life after being covered in unique and colorful designs to bring a fresh twist in to the garden. Originally, Patti started painting pots for her own garden but decided to turn the hobby in to a business after friends and family started asking to buy them.

Small Business owner Patti stands behind her decorative pots display

In 2011, Patti’s close friend, Terri, passed away from breast cancer. Patti, pictured above at her booth at the Marigold Farmer’s Market in Winterville, Georgia, was devastated and was looking for a way to channel her grief when she began painting. That is how Patti Pots was born. (Photo by Victoria Eymard on Oct. 2, 2021)

Patti began finding old terra-cotta pots and refurbishing them for her garden by painting them with patterns, flowers, and animals, all in bright colors. The process of creating something new from something formerly looked over and discarded was cathartic work for Patti. (Photo by
Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

Display of hand painter terracotta pots

At first, Patti’s painted pots were just put to use in her own garden, but over time friends and family came to admire them and would ask Patti if they could purchase them. That’s when she realized she might’ve stumbled on to a good idea. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

Hand painted terracotta pots on display at a local farmer's market.

Four years ago, Patti decided to leave her job as a paralegal and pursue her pot painting business full-time. “I was divorced, my son was grown with kids of his own, so I figured if I didn’t do it then I would never do it.” says Patti. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

At first, Patti was selling her pots out of the trunk of her car. “My family thought I was crazy.” she says. But now, you can find Patti’s Pots every Saturday morning at the Marigold market in Winterville. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

Patti, pictured here conversing with Quinn O’Brien, feels that her business was really inspired by her late friend Terri. “I wanted to call it Terri Pots, but Patti Pots just sounded better,” Patti jokes. O’Brien, a patron at the booth, remarked that Patti could incorporate her friend’s name by using the phrase “Terri-cotta” instead of terra-cotta. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in
Winterville, GA)

“Grief is like a wave, it’s like standing with your back to the waves and not knowing when that big one is going to hit, but it’s going to hit when you least expect it and you can let it drown you or you can ride it and that’ll bring you back to shore.”

Patti Smith

Patti, pictured here, shares her work and her story as an example of how something beautiful and full of joy can be created out of tragedy. “Grief is like a wave, it’s like standing with your back to the waves and not knowing when that big one is going to hit, but it’s going to hit when you least expect it and you can let it drown you or you can ride it and that’ll bring you back to
shore,” Patti Smith. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

Patti Pots can be found Saturdays at the Marigold Farmer’s Market from 10am-2pm or on Facebook at Patti Pots. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Oct 2, 2021 in Winterville, GA)

Article and photos by: Victoria Eymard

Study Away and Save

Interested in study abroad, but concerned about the price? Check out the infographic below to see what UGA assistance is available to you to make your destination dreams a reality!

Article and graphic by: Victoria Eymard

Study Abroad Is Priceless — Except When It’s Not

Photo of the entry sign for the Global Engagement Building at the University of Georgia.
The Office of Global Engagement at The University of Georgia supports international education opportunities and provides students with funding and resources for study away programs. Photo taken by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom. Dec 3 2021/Athens, GA.

Ben Barrett was having a great time studying abroad in Leon, France in the spring of 2020 until he was informed that his program was being canceled due to ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19. He had 24 hours to book a flight back to the U.S. 

Barrett, a senior at the University of Georgia and a junior advisor with the Office of Global Engagement, found a spot on a flight home just in the nick of time. But it cost him about $4,000. 

“Having to come home early was really expensive because we had to pay for plane tickets immediately,” Barrett said. “Fortunately, my family is well enough off that we were able to cover that cost. But a lot of people don’t have that,” he said.

While no one could predict a global pandemic, Barrett’s story is just one example of how study abroad costs can add up, making the dream of global education unattainable for many. 

Study abroad programs range in price. Short-term programs average in the $2,000-$3,000 range. Prices increase based on program duration and location, and these costs don’t include contingency funds, personal spending and travel costs. 

Photo of a professor sitting in front of white board in empty classroom
Carolina Acosta- Alzuru, a professor of public relations at The University of Georgia. Acosta-Alzuru traveled abroad to teach at the UGA at Oxford program in Oxford, England. Photo by Irene Wright, Graduate Newsroom. Dec 2, 2021/Athens, GA.

Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, a UGA public relations professor, traveled abroad to teach at the Oxford program in England. The program allowed students extra funds to travel across Europe, including to Spain and Great Britain. 

Acosta-Alzuru says one of the benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to see nearby cities and landmarks, but these are additional costs that have to be budgeted for. 

“It is not cheap,” Acosta-Alzuru said, recalling on her own daughter’s study abroad program. “I have never regretted that investment, but it was expensive.”

Funding for study abroad

According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, 17% of the undergraduate population at UGA receives Pell Grants, grants awarded to students with exceptional financial need. These students face tremendous financial barriers just to attend college. Extra programs, such as studying away, can feel out of reach, despite the benefits they can provide. 

“Having to come home early was really expensive because we had to pay for plane tickets immediately. Fortunately, my family is well enough off that we were able to cover that cost. But a lot of people don’t have that.”

Ben Barrett

Samantha Meyer, director of experiential learning at the UGA College of Journalism and Mass Communication, says that cost barriers and finding time in their plan of study to go abroad are the two main barriers for students. Some degree programs, such as foreign language or liberal arts, allow more course selections that could be taken abroad. Even Barrett admits that this was an advantage he had when choosing to study abroad. 

“Being able to take a semester off to go do something where the classes don’t necessarily fit what you want to do, means you probably already had a ton of advantages in terms of credits in the past,” Barrett said.

A student stands in front of large screen giving a presentation on study away scholarships
Ben Barrett, a senior at UGA and a junior advisor for the Office of Global Engagement, giving a presentation on financial aid opportunities for study abroad. Barrett studied on exchange in Leon, France in Spring of 2020. Photo by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom. Dec 1, 2021/ Athens, GA.

However, both Barrett and Meyer said there is hope. The UGA Office of Global Engagement offers a general scholarship to students interested in studying abroad. Applicants are rated based on their application essays, academic merit, financial need and other demographics. 

Individual departments and colleges, like the College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Terry College of Business, provide scholarship opportunities to students in their programs. Financial aid, such as tuition waivers, Pell Grants, and the Georgia-specific HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, can be applied to study abroad.

Another opportunity available to help save on costs is the UGA Passport Initiative. This program will cover the cost of a passport up to $150 and is available to any UGA undergraduate student who is a U.S. citizen. 

“It is not cheap, I have never regretted that investment, but it was expensive.”

Carolina Acosta-Alzuru

Barrett feels that his time abroad not only helped improve his French-speaking skills, but the trip also gave him a more advanced worldview than some of his classmates. There are other benefits as well.

For example, a study from the Institute for the International Education of Students, an organization that supports study abroad programming, states that 93% of their program participants were employed within six months of graduation and a study of alumni from the American Institute for Foreign Study said 85% agreed that studying abroad was the most meaningful part of their education.

Acosta-Alzuru stresses the positive impacts of studying internationally but also acknowledges the struggle.

“Not everyone can do study abroad unless there’s help,” she said. “If I ever became a millionaire, what I would do is set up some sort of foundation so that every one of my students could study abroad. This is how important I think it is.” 

Article and photos by: Victoria Eymard

Athens’ FarmRX Program Is Redefining Prescriptions

The welcome booth at the Athens’ farmer’s market hosts a cheerful sign for Farm RX program participants. (Photo taken by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom at Athens’ Farmer’s Market in Bishop Park, Oct. 9, 2021)

Marcia Singson, a local resident, is switching the trip to the pharmacy with a trip to the farmer’s market.

She participates in Athens’ Food As Real Medicine Prescription Program, or Farm RX, a program on a mission to combat both food insecurity and growing health concerns among Athens’ low-income residents. 

A infographic describing the FarmRX program

The six month program provides organic, locally grown, produce to participants each week, along with cooking, nutrition and wellness programs. The ultimate goal of Farm RX is to produce lifestyle and habit changes for long term improvement in the participants’ health.

“What Farm RX has allowed us to do is not only try different vegetables and fruits that I normally wouldn’t, but also offered some really good and healthy recipes.” Singson says. 

About one in six Clarke County residents are food insecure, according to Feeding America’s 2019 “Map the Meal Gap” study. Yet, according to the same study, over 6,000 of these residents do not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, due to their income. Part of Farm RX’s mission is to help those residents. 

According to a USDA study published in 2016, most Americans do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, with many members of low-income households citing costs as the reason. 

“It’s helping us sell more food. I see a lot of people getting a lot of food for their families.”

Dylan Payne

Lacking proper nutrition can  lead to chronic health issues, especially in children the Feeding America study points out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poor eating habits contribute to conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  The Farm RX program prescribes patients healthy food through partnerships with health clinics.

Food as Medicine

Farm RX is a six-month program that provides organic, locally grown produce each week, as well as nutrition, cooking and wellness classes, said Monica Bledsoe, the Farm RX Coordinator.

One adult from the household is responsible for joining the program and completing the requirements, but produce is provided for the entire family at a rate of $1 a day, per person in the household. FarmRX currently partners with Mercy Health Center, which serves a low income population and is able to refer good candidates to the program.

Vegetables from a local farm laid out at the farmer's market
Produce from Hearts of Harvest Farm, one of the participating vendors at the Athens’ Farmer’s Market in Bishop Park. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom)

Eating a more balanced and nutritious diet can help reduce sodium levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure, as well as contribute to a healthier weight. These things are all linked to long term health concerns, says a fact sheet from the CDC.

Singson said that besides providing her household with produce, the classes have helped her shop healthier, teaching her how to better understand nutrition labels and recognize which items are best to include in her diet. 

“I think it’s way better than prescription drugs and pharmaceutical options and all that,” says Dylan Payne of Cedar Grove farm. “I think if people ate better and got a little exercise we wouldn’t have half the medical conditions we have right now,” he said. 

Giving Back to the Community

By partnering with local farms, like Cedar Grove, to provide the produce, Farm RX also helps give back to the community and support local business. Currently, seven local farms participate in the program. 

These tokens are given to Farm RX participants to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms at the Athens’ Farmer’s Market. (Photo taken by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom in Bishop Park on Oct, 9 2021)

At the farmer’s market twice a week, participants check in with volunteers and then are given their allotted amount of money in tokens, which are then accepted by the farmers at their personal produce stands. At the end of the market, the farmers then turn in those tokens to the Farm RX staff and are reimbursed with a check, Bledsoe explained.

“It’s helping us sell more food. It’s bringing more people who are apt to use their tokens because they can’t use them anywhere else. I see a lot of people getting a lot of food for their families,” Payne said. 

Payne also shared with me that he appreciates how the program has brought more diversity to the market.

Harvesting Support

The program is currently hosting 53 families, but Bledsoe would love to increase the support to more people in need. 

“Our partners are in a position to grow to meet the demand of more families, we are just limited by funding,” Bledsoe said. 

The program also takes volunteers to help at the markets, as well as to help provide transportation or deliveries to participants. 

Bledsoe said that removing additional barriers for participants helps maintain a high active participation rate throughout the program. 

“I just can’t say enough good things.”

Marcia Singson

“One of the barriers that we help to remove is transportation, we can provide transportation for any of our participants,” Bledsoe said, “Or even some of our participants get their food delivered directly to their home.”

Singson, a participant, is grateful for the program and the encouragement and community she has found throughout. 

“I just can’t say enough good things,” she said.

Monica Bledsoe, Farm RX Coordinator, counting tokens at the Athens’ Farmer’s Market in Bishop Park on Oct 9, 2021. (Photo by Victoria Eymard, Graduate Newsroom)

Anyone interested in supporting the program financially or by volunteering can find Monica Bledsoe at the Athens Farmers Market welcome booth every Wednesday at Creature Comforts from 4-7p.m. or every Saturday at Bishop Park from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. They can also reach out to Monica by email at

Article and media by: Victoria Eymard