The Beeville community garden seeks to be just that, complete with handicapped accessibility.
The garden will be located next to the First United Methodist Church on East Cleveland Street. The church is providing the land and the water.
“Anybody can plant in the garden — any age — as long as they can maintain it,” said Jan Danmier, public health technician at the Department of State Health Services, who is co-heading the project with Marlo Swint-Sandoval, RN Wesley Nurse at First United Methodist Church.
“The handicapped area will be closer to the road, and the rows will be raised off the ground,” she continued.
If a plot is not maintained, the gardener(s) of that space will receive a warning and time to fix the problems before losing it.
For the first year, the water, plants and seeds will be provided. However, gardeners also may plant vegetables using their own seeds.
“The only thing we ask is that half of the produce be donated to a food bank in town,” said Danmier, listing the Beeville Vineyard, First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church as options.
Danmier said the garden will be mostly made up of vegetables, but some flowers for decoration will be permitted.
“We want it to be eye-appealing, so people want to come here,” Sandoval said.
“Flowers make it attractive to other organizations, like the Garden Club, the Chamber of Commerce or the Junior Service League,” she continued.
The two leaders are working on a $3 million grant that deals with cancer education and prevention to help with garden costs, but the project is going ahead whether or not the grant is received.
“We have all the seeds and tools already,” Danmier said.
Sandoval said corporate sponsorships also will be available. If a company donates a certain item or materials, they could have their name displayed at the garden.
“Any donations are greatly appreciated,” she said.
The garden was born out of an idea to do a community project focused on health/disease prevention and education.
“Marlo said, ‘Why don’t we do a garden?’” Danmier said.
“We just wanted something people could feel comfortable participating in,” Sandoval added.
The garden will allow the community to take part in healthy diet instruction, physical activity and sun protection education. People who may not usually have access to fresh produce will be able to get it.
“We may be able to have cooking demonstrations here,” said Danmier, adding that many people may not know how to cook the fresh vegetables.
“This really is a field of dreams,” Sandoval said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Sandoval mentioned that she and Danmier want the garden to be available for use by the schools for field trips and other educational purposes.
“They could even have biology class here, in a real-world setting,” she said.
The garden could evolve and create many spin-off projects, said Sandoval, citing a possible soup kitchen as an example.
Even for those with less than green thumbs, the garden will still be a place where they can enjoy being outside.
“There’s a big pecan tree (in the garden), and we want to have a reading area there with seating around it,” Danmier said.
That also may be a place where story time can be held for children, both women said.
Beeville will house the first community garden of several in South Texas, Danmier said. For this year, she and Sandoval are working to have the plot ready for a fall garden. Several community workdays will be held in the next few months, and anyone is welcome to come and help.
Groups or individuals interested in securing a plot of the garden may contact either Danmier at 358-2241, ext. 2229, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sandoval at 358-6002 or email@example.com.
Sarah Taylor is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or sarah@mySouTex.com.