Fruits of their Labor: article in Plano Star Courier
Plano Community Garden
The Plano Community Garden is run entirely by community support and volunteers. To donate time or resources, contact email@example.com.
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It’s Saturday morning at the Plano Community Garden, and everything must go. Debra Bliss, master gardener, bends low – shovel in hand – as she unearths radishes, onions and healthy swiss chard from the dirt.
“Anything ready on Saturday morning goes if we can harvest it,” Bliss said.
In less than an acre of land off Parker Road, novice and experienced gardeners grow crops like onions, cilantro, potatoes, swiss chard, radishes and beets. Some plots grow kale and garlic. Others grow fennel and arugula. But when the harvest comes in, these local gardeners share the wealth with residents in need.
For the past 12 years, the Plano Community Garden has donated half of its harvested produce to various nonprofits in Allen, McKinney and across Collin County. Last year, nonprofits received about 3,000 pounds of donated organic produce, but their main beneficiary is God’s Pantry in Plano. Executive director Sylvia Martinez said that each month, the pantry serves about 600 families, and early Saturday morning, their clients receive first pick of the harvest, grown in Plano by Plano for Plano.
“It’s helped us tremendously. The kind of produce that we get from them is extraordinary, and the people that come to our organizations are not able to afford the product like that,” Martinez said.
Most of the God’s Pantry clients are veterans, seniors and low- or moderate-income families. The pantry also serves students who can’t afford food for the week. Since organic vegetables are often more expensive at regular supermarkets, most clients can’t afford fruits and vegetables.
The service mission of the Plano Community Garden was sowed 12 years ago when Community Unitarian Universalist Church asked its members for project ideas that would serve the community. As an avid gardener, Bliss suggested the church start a garden, “and they said, ‘take it,’” she said. For a year, six volunteers worked with the gardeners at the Plano Environmental Education Center to learn how to start a garden. They started small, with 11 gardeners planting seasonal crops like potatoes, onions and tomatoes. This year, they’ve got 25 plots, open to gardeners and volunteers year round.
“We were told when we first started this – the gardens that survive are the ones who donate because they have a purpose,” Bliss said.
Kelsey Samuels, firstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2018