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OUT IN THE YARD: Changing lives building one community garden at a time

By Eileen Slater

Open your pantry or refrigerator and food is there or NOT! Texas is ranked as one of the states with the highest food insecurity rates in America. The USDA states that food insecurity is “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Lack of nutrition changes the way a child’s brain develops. Along with lack of nutrition, diabetes and obesity rates rise in children.

In Jefferson County one-third of adults are obese, which raises rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. The Beaumont City Health Department estimates more than 30 percent of children in Jefferson County are obese or overweight.

What can you do?

Combat this problem by volunteering in community gardens or consider donating extra produce from your own garden.

What is a community garden?

A community garden is a piece of land cultivated by members of a community, especially in an urban area. It allows citizens to grow or donate food they have grown. The piece of land is gardened by a cooperative group of people living in the area.

Where are these gardens?

The following known community gardens are found and service residents in Jefferson County. You can volunteer at any of these gardens to help produce food needed for people in our community.

The Giving Field’s mission is to feed the hungry. It has 52 beds and 32 trees to provide organic vegetables and fruit year around for the soup kitchens Some Other Place in Beaumont and the Hospitality Center in Port Arthur.

Lamar Community Garden provides students the opportunity to volunteer to grow food for themselves and to donate to a variety of locations.

Lamar University hosts the South Park Community Garden. Its mission is to help local people learn and grow food for themselves.

McCabe Roberts UMC location emphasizes the benefits of including whole foods in one’s daily eating plan.

Mid-County Victory Garden is designed to educate the community with the power of the vegetable.

Nutrition and Services for Seniors, commonly known as Meals on Wheels, delivers fresh garden produce to their clients in Jefferson and Hardin counties from their 18 organic beds.

Port Arthur Beautification Commission is involved in a garden at Booker T. Washington Elementary to teach children gardening skills along with science and math.

Seeds for Needs, Wesley UMC location, delivers fresh vegetables to Boys Haven

Your volunteer challenge is to change our community and lives one garden at a time!

To learn more about gardening, sign up to become a Master Gardener at the number below for a two-week course that will take place, January 17-20 and January 23-27, 2017.

Reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Eileen Slater at enslater08@gmail.com or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (409)835-8461.