The garden is now ripe with an abundance of okra, green beans, peppers, corn, squash, eggplant and more.
Recent community growth spurred the need for a year-round garden, but that also meant needing extra help.
The garden is now primarily maintained by three inmates from the Federal Correctional Institution in TR.
The inmates chosen for the community service project are Ernest from Houston, John and Steven both from Alamo.
Prior to their first day at the community garden none of the men had ever attempted to garden, they all agree they felt lost.
After weeks of difficult and unfamiliar work using some tools they couldn’t even name, the three became skeptical that anything would even grow.
Finally the men began to see some growth. John explained how excited they would be to see how much the plants had grown from the previous week.
Ernest described how the garden quickly began to thrive when the community received a great deal of rain.
“The rain made such a difference in how fast the garden grew,” Ernest said.
All three men agreed that working in the garden has changed their prospective in community involvement.
All three also plan on continuing to garden once they return to their own communities.
All also expressed their desire to see the community benefit from their hard work and commitment to the garden.
The inmates are there every Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
The workers are more than eager to see the community harvest the crops that have made such a difference in their lives.
They will also assist with the removal of the vegetables. They said some plants can be permanently damaged in the removal if not done with care.
The community garden was created by Methodist Church member Lloyd Grubbs in 2005.
Grubbs recommends those in need bring a container that will accommodate the vegetables needed for that day’s meal. “Please use, just don’t abuse,” Grubbs explained.
Grubbs recognized a growing need for accessible free food for those that were going hungry within the community.
The church agreed to provide the land and water necessary to develop and maintain a communal garden.
Over the last eight years the garden has continued to grow in an effort to keep up with the ever changing needs of residents.
It has taken five years of expansion and planning to implement the year-round garden.
“There will always be produce ready and available to the community, there is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Three Rivers with year-round crops,” Mike Pierson, a volunteer with the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce, said.
Two smaller community gardens are also available at no cost to residents. Grace Fellowship in Whitsett and River of Life Worship Center in Three Rivers.
The Rivers First United Methodist Church is located at 201 E. Church.