Get to know Jan’s Garden at the North Texas Food Bank

Celebrate National Garden Week by learning about the NTFB’s sustainable learning garden.

Late spring storms meant the North Texas Food Bank had to cancel its National Garden Week volunteer shift in Jan’s Garden.

But the saturated soil and continued drizzle on Tuesday, June 4, didn’t stop the most dedicated of volunteers from showing up in the morning anyway. After all, they said, there were tomatoes that needed harvesting.

Initially planted in 2018 along with the opening of the North Texas Food Bank’s Perot Family Campus in Plano, Jan’s Garden is a small-scale sustainable learning and production garden. It’s named in honor of late president and CEO Jan Pruitt, who served at NTFB for nearly 20 years.

The planting, weeding, cultivating and harvesting that takes place each week is led by Garden Specialist Karen Gilboux, who joined the NTFB in February following a 35-year corporate career as a leader and account executive in technology, consulting, sales and delivery.

She also has plenty of garden experience. Karen is a Dallas County Master Gardener and before joining the NTFB staff, Karen served for a year-and-a-half as a volunteer kernel where she trained and mentored other garden volunteers. In addition to her work in Jan’s Garden, Karen gives her time at NTFB partner gardens and other community gardens in DFW.

At the North Texas Food Bank, gardening takes place all year, regardless of rain, heat or ice. Seedlings are grown in the greenhouse during the winter, replanted outdoors in the spring and cared for each month by staff and volunteers who water, weed, shovel mulch and soil and harvest. Several raised beds in the garden were completed as part of Eagle Scout projects and cages and other barriers have been added to keep plants safe.

The garden acts as a teaching space for volunteers and partner gardens but it also produces food that neighbors enjoy. Produce grown in Jan’s Garden is provided to Seven Loaves Pantry at The Storehouse Community Center.

NTFB also has more than 15 partner gardens that grow and provide produce for neighbors facing hunger. Partner gardens donate anywhere from 10 to 100 percent of what they grow and, on average, provide up to 40,000 pounds of fresh produce to partner food pantries each year.

Interested in getting involved? Volunteers 16 and older are welcome each Tuesday morning in Jan’s Garden. Find out more and register here.

Kathleen Petty is the communications manager for the North Texas Food Bank.