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Diggin' it: Community garden now becoming growing success
by Jason Collins
Mar 25, 2013 | 1490 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shelley Green and her children, Deacon and Harper, plant herbs in one of the planters at the First United Methodist Church Community Garden. The garden is open to anyone at no charge. All they ask is that a portion of the produce is donated to the needy.
Shelley Green and her children, Deacon and Harper, plant herbs in one of the planters at the First United Methodist Church Community Garden. The garden is open to anyone at no charge. All they ask is that a portion of the produce is donated to the needy.
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A cluster of green tomatoes develop on a bush at the garden. Spots are still available and open to those interested in growing something new.
A cluster of green tomatoes develop on a bush at the garden. Spots are still available and open to those interested in growing something new.
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Raven is the mascot or maybe even the guardian of the First United Methodist Church Community Garden.
Raven is the mascot or maybe even the guardian of the First United Methodist Church Community Garden.
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Harper and Deacon Green were eager to get playing — well, what they considered playing.

They had their shovels and rakes, each of a size that would fit their small, young hands.

Their mother, Shelley, was just as excited as she unloaded tray after tray of plants from the back of her SUV.

This is her first time to work the soil and grow her own vegetables.

“I have always wanted to,” she said as she stood in the community garden of First United Methodist Church.

“I love fresh food and I think it is better for them,” she said looking over at Harper, 5, and Deacon, 3.

Walking about the garden, some of the plants are already up while others have yet to push their green stalks through the soil.

Tomatoes and onions are growing fast in several of the beds.

Cilantro and peppers likewise are spicing up the looks of the walking trail that traverses the outside of the garden.

It’s a veritable salad of plants — just add time and a little more work.

A portion of everything grown must go back to one of the churches in the area to help the needy or be given to one of the food banks or just given away to someone in need.

And, no, membership at the church isn’t required and neither is being a Methodist.

Everyone is invited out – even those with limited gardening knowledge.

Volunteer Jan Danmier said, “We want people to come out and enjoy it.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what age you are.”

All are invited — and no gardening experience is required.

Danmier and others are there to help.

“I do have some seeds I can give them but I don’t have any plants,” she said.

Jan and her husband, Robert Danmier, said that they plan to hold classes to teach people the basics of gardening.

“A lot of people think you just put it in the ground and it will grow,” she said.

That is also why in the contract gardeners sign before planting, they agree to maintain their area and keep it watered.

The church does provide the water. Gardeners need only provide their time and a bit of sweat.

This garden is about more than just herbs and vegetables.

Last week, the Beeville Youth in Action came by and planted an assortment of flowers to brighten the area with spring colors.

This group of young leaders also planted flowers at the Chamber of Commerce office.

There are still spots open for eager gardeners. And, no, there is no charge for any of this.

Danmier said that she hopes more families like the Greens will take advantage of the waiting soil

The excitement of Deacon and Harper radiates as they dig holes in the dark soil.

Each wants their chance to put one of the plants in the ground.

“Can I plant the next one?” Deacon said as he kneeled beside one of the planter boxes.

“This is going to be our herb box,” Shelley said.

It’s an eclectic mix of peppermint, chives and cilantro.

Across the way, she plans to put in cucumbers, cantaloupe and tomatoes.

“We are going to have lots to eat,” she said with confidence.

She praised the church for the idea of the garden.

“I think it is wonderful idea,” she said. “I have never heard of such a thing.”

Rev. Larry McRorey, pastor of First United Methodist Church, said this garden has been two years in the works.

“It is for the community,” he said. “We want to make sure folks know that this is a community garden, not a church garden.”

The idea came from the church’s Wesley nurse, Marlo Swint-Sandoval, who is always striving to improve the health of the community.

McRorey said that diabetes and obesity are common problems for many people living in South Texas.

Fresh vegetables, like those grown in home gardens, can curb these rampant illnesses.

“For us, the community garden is a way to address those issues,” McRorey said.

“We hope that if people have access to fresh vegetables, the instances of diabetes and obesity will go down.

“It is a long-term vision.”

That is also why they hope to attract whole families to work the soil. Youngsters raised on vegetables will continue to eat them later in life and thus will be less prone to illness.

While the size of the garden likely won’t change, its scope will.

“We see some long-term value here for the garden and hope to generate interest there for folks to have backyard gardens.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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