The Learning Garden at Tom Graham Park is producing some great things, and is quickly becoming a vital part of the learning process of self-sustainability in Corpus Christi.
Sponsored by GROW Local South Texas, the garden has been producing several different varieties of vegetables, plants, and fruits. One of the garden's main goals is to incorporate more native seeds, as they tend to get lost throughout the generations. One such native fruit-producing plant is Garden Huckleberries. Traditionally thought of as poisonous, garden huckleberries are actually quite tasty, and native to the area.
Beyond inspiring more generations of native plants, GROW Local and its Learning Garden are also inspiring the next generations of native farmers.
"We're trying to help bring more farmers who can be more self-sufficient, for low income folks," said Erin Denny, Director of the Learning Garden, GROW Local South Texas. "This is a volunteer effort, so it doesn't always look as beautiful or as perfect as we'd like it to. But it's a labor love."
The garden, a community-based effort, relies on continued support from volunteers and an internship program that runs throughout the year. Five locals participated in the last round of internships. The next Garden Apprenticeship program is scheduled to begin again in June.
Since the garden was first conceived, the surrounding neighborhood has steadily been getting more involved. Neighbors are getting their hands dirty, helping to plant trees, seeds, and helping to arrange the garden. In return, GROW Local South Texas is striving to help the neighborhood accomplish an endeavor that has been an uphill battle for nearly fifteen years.
"We've been talking to the neighbors, and they really want a light put in at the park, and they've been asking the city for nearly fifteen years for that light," Denny said. "One of our goals, and what we've promised the neighbors, is that we'd work hard to bring a light here."
At the beginning of April, GROW Local South Texas hosted its yearly Farm-to-Table Dinner, and the organization has promised that all of the funds raised during the event go directly to the purchase of the light for Tom Graham Park.
Growing support from the community will only lead to further success for the garden. Originally conceived as a classroom garden, GROW Local South Texas continually hosts garden-based classes year-round. The garden, located at 3808 Up River Rd, is open for the public to volunteer every Tuesday, from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
"You don't have to live in the area," Denny said, "but if you want to learn how to grow your own food, learn how to be in an environment where it's encouraging, and get your hands dirty, come on out!"
For more information on the Learning Garden at Tom Graham Park, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GROWLocalSTX. For more information on GROW Local South Texas, and to get involved, visit www.growlocalstx.com.
Applications for the next Garden Apprenticeship program will be posted by June 15.