Did you ever hear of a project that just made you feel happy? Recently, I was introduced to the Giving Field garden project. What a wonderful testimony to the volunteer efforts of our community once again!
The one-acre piece of land the garden is near St. Anne’s Catholic Church on 11th Street. Before ground breaking in April 2012, the land was vacant for many years, according to one of the founding volunteers, Sharon Begnaud. Begnaud says, “Early in 2012, Monsignor William Manger, pastor for St. Anne church, had the idea of making a garden on the property. Pastoral Council member Mary Mahlie took the project on, and she asked me to help her develop the idea. We wanted to make a garden with real community impact.” Both Begnaud and Mahlie had spent time at area soup kitchens cooking for the hungry and realized that this garden would be a perfect way to get fresh fruits and vegetables to these people who desperately need them.
So this donation garden was born. A donation garden is different from a community garden in that the raised beds are sponsored by members of the community, but groups of people come together to plant and maintain the entire garden, and the harvest is given to the area soup kitchens to feed the hungry. Begnaud added, “Our volunteer base is made up of students coming to the garden to learn. It also includes groups from the area correctional and probation programs, Girl Scout troops, Master Gardeners, families looking for outdoor activities and individuals who want to turn their black thumbs to green. We received our first two beehives this past Sunday from the Magnolia Garden Club, a group making us all aware that we need to build our bee population.”
The first 33 raised beds were built and 21 trees were planted Oct. 13, 2012. More than 200 people from the community came out to work together to bring this vision to life. People from all over and with many backgrounds got dirty that day to accomplish the task at hand. The day began with a blessing from Monsignor Manger and ended with a beautiful Hebrew scripture by Rabbi Joshua Taub. Begnaud feels that “it was a wonderful example of how we are striving to make this project non-denominational as the hungry have no one face, race or religion. We can all work together to accomplish the mission.” You too can come and help in the garden project. Call (409) 832-9963 and ask for Mahlie or Begnaud if you need additional information.
Join Begnaud and others March 9 at The Giving Field behind Bando’s from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for a wonderful day of workshops, at a cost of $10 for the full day. Profits go to The Giving Field. Look forward to hearing Katharine Carmichael speak about feeding your family from your backyard garden. Mahlie will tell us how to grow delicious organic tomatoes. Joseph Johnson, director of horticulture at Shangri-La in Orange, will help us learn how to landscape with edibles. John Ferguson of Nature’s Way Resources in Houston will host It’s All In The Soil … and Compost. Mark Bowen of Nature’s Way will focus on Let Nature Help You: The Secrets of Beneficial Plants. Mike Serant of Houston will speak to Organic Fertilizers: Easy Solutions for a Healthy Garden.
Some readers may be familiar with the renowned Alice Waters of Berkley, Calif., and her Chez Panisse Restaurant. She is credited with beginning the current organic and local food movement that we enjoy today when she opened Chez Panisse back in the ’70s. Our own Giving Field has used Waters’ nationally recognized project Edible Schoolyard as a template for some of the educational components of the garden. The Edible Schoolyard website featured this wonderful local Giving Field project just last month!