In the last several years, gardening has taken on a new life and a new meaning. It is being moved from the backyards of hobbyists to front yards, vacant plots of land at schools and churches, and rooftops in the center of urban jungles. People are joining together in efforts to grow food not only for their own benefit or that of their family, but also for the members of their community.

Community gardening is a proactive measure that food banks all over the U.S. have been using more and more. It increases food security and self-reliance in communities that do not have easy access to nutritious produce. Freshly harvested food maximizes nutritional content of produce. In addition, the activity involved in gardening plays a role in increasing the overall health of individuals.

Staff in the Community Garden program at TAFB take all of this into consideration when planning educational programming. Over the course of a year, they provide free workshops and classes designed to help beginning gardeners, as well as more advanced gardeners, in their efforts to successfully grow produce.

Participation is Key

Shawnna Haddox, a regular participant in the TAFB Community Garden workshops, began the journey to change the way her and her family ate and gardened years ago. Today, Shawnna gardens at home where she grows herbs and large vegetables. Even though Shawnna rents, it doesn’t stop her from growing some of her own produce. She also maintains raised beds in two different Grand Prairie community gardens.

Over the last year, Shawnna has participated in courses offered by TAFB on everything from how to make garden compost with the help of earthworms to how raise chickens for egg production. Shawnna loves the hands-on approach to the workshops. Participants can actively assist in lessons led by instructors. The class handouts are easy to understand and instructors take the time to explain unfamiliar topics. Shawnna applauds the instructors for their preparedness and organizational skills.

Volunteers working in Tarrant Area Food Bank's Learning Garden.

Bringing People Together

In one community garden that Shawnna participates in, she notes that her efforts don’t go unnoticed. In fact, residents of the neighborhood approach her with questions about gardening and how they can have a hand in growing some of their own food. “Community gardens bring people together who would not otherwise speak or get to know each other,” Shawnna says. Through community gardening, people also have an opportunity to share food with others.

“Any time you have an opportunity to educate someone on how to better their own life is great.”
-Shawnna Haddox

Shawnna recently applied and was accepted into the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Dallas County Master Gardener Class. She credits her acceptance into this year-long program to many things, including the skills she gained by attending TAFB Community Garden workshops.

In Tarrant Area Food Bank’s service area, one of six people of all ages struggles with hunger. One in four children come from families that live with uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. In addition, one of eight people served by TAFB Partner Agencies is 60 years or older. While TAFB has several programs in place to help provide food to those in need, programs like community gardens offer a unique way for people to get involved and make a difference in their neighborhood.

Visit our Eventbrite page for a complete list of upcoming workshops and garden tours.

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