After 60 hours of instruction, the Ellis County Master Gardener Association intern class of 2018 wanted to pay it forward.
Since May 14, the group of gardeners visited the backyard of Waxahachie CARE to beautify and improve the garden already in place.
“Not only are we doing our project but also helping those in need,” intern gardener April Smith said.
Smith then pointed at a pile of colorful squash and explained how the produce that is grown will be given away at the food pantry located in the Waxahachie CARE building.
“Fresh produce, straight from the garden. It’s pretty rewarding to be able to do that and for them — the whole idea is for us to prepare and show them this can be done in their backyard,” Smith expressed.
The future Master Gardeners established a fruitful and stable garden and will now carry on their knowledge to the community the garden benefits. The interns will host an educational class July 12 from 9:30—10:30 a.m. at Waxahachie CARE, located at 1208 Ferris Avenue.
“We want to share that knowledge with them and tell them how to maintain this garden so they can take it over and continue to do the same to provide for their food pantry,” Smith added.
There will be three stations that highlight how to start a garden, simple recipes for produce — samples will be shared — and rock painting to decorate the garden, which will be perfect fun for the kids. There will also be homemade giveaways.
At one station the participants will be given a pumpkin seed to grow at home and, in less than 20 days, they will have a pickable product. Intern Master Hardeners Barret Golden and Omar Hosch will cook for the visitors.
The group has planted squash, zucchini, tomatoes, five peach and pear trees, okra, blackberry plants, sweet peppers and more. They even planted a box full of zena flowers to help attract the bees to help pollinate the garden. Next, the gardeners will install an actual beehive to assist with the process next week.
“When they undertook that — I had the garden going, but I couldn’t do what they can,” Waxahachie CARE Executive Director Linda Naizer relayed. “I did the bare minimum, and now they are decorating, and they’ve made it so pretty and made it look like we are doing a real beneficial job.”
She expressed that the food pantry serves about 500 people a month. Usually, a truck brings in the produce but the season has proved to be dry, limiting the resource.
“This is essential. And normally every year a lot of people donate produce to us and especially with it being a dry year. We have gotten some but not as many donations," Naizer said.
She added the garden has functioned for about three years, and the Avenue Church played a role in the beginning. “I’m hoping now we will be able to sustain it and have a few volunteers help out.”
Naizer is passionate about the help she provides to the community and believes the foundation of life is education. She hopes this educational gardening class will benefit others and the center.
“I’m grateful that they took on this project. You know, I can’t thank them enough for this. I hope it’s successful. Whether or not it’s successful, it doesn’t matter. If we help one or two people or three or four people and they see what’s going on and be able to do this,” Naizer expressed.
If interested in helping maintain the garden, contact Naizer at 972-923-2273. The food pantry is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 a.m.—2 p.m. and on Tuesdays it is open from 12—4:30 p.m.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450