Partner Garden Feature: The Giving Garden of Carrollton
People sometimes say, “It takes a village,” to complete a task, and that is true for feeding our community in North Texas. NTFB’s Partner Gardens are part of the “village” that helps provide fresh, nutritious produce for our hungry neighbors.
One of our Jardines asociados, los Giving Garden of Carrollton, has lived up to its name and has helped grow and donate over 13 tons of produce to area food banks since it began in 2010. Through those donations, the Giving Garden has helped countless families have access to healthy foods.
We chatted with Giving Garden to learn more about its history and its impact.
Q: Please describe the history of your garden.
A: The Giving Garden, which was spearheaded by Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC) and Carrollton resident the late Willie Lane along, with a “seed committee” of other folks was jointly developed by Keep Carrollton Beautiful and Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC) to provide a sustainable community garden opportunity for the citizens of Carrollton, without regard to demographic or socioeconomic status.
Q: Tell us more about your garden and how it operates.
A: Located behind Aldersgate United Methodist Church at 3926 Old Denton Rd., the garden is primarily self-supporting and does not receive any regular donations. Instead, participants pay a $40-per-year membership fee and spend their own monies to buy plants and supplies for their plots. Occasionally, the garden holds fundraisers to pay for things like a new lawn mower, lumber to replace rotting boards on beds, a new shed, repairing our fence, compost, etc. We also appreciate the support from local nurseries and retail stores.
Q: How does the Giving Garden help its local community?
A: Two of the garden’s 32 beds — one for herbs and one for wildflowers — are maintained for the benefit of all garden members. But that’s not all. Half of their own crops are also donated each season so that those in need can enjoy the benefits of fresh, organic produce. Much of the food goes to the Christian Community Action food pantry, Metrocrest Services and AUMC Food Share.
The Giving Garden also reaches out to the community to promote organic food practices, mentors other community garden groups, and even shares its resources with other organizations, including Friends of Furneaux Creek, a non-profit that maintains Carrollton’s trail systems and supports Monarch butterfly habitats.
The garden also provides tours for community and school groups, said board member Laura Margadonna: “The Carrollton Early PTA (CEPTA) group has been coming for several years now to release ladybugs and learn about the garden. The reactions of the kids are fun to watch. At one visit, the ladybugs were so lively that we could barely keep them inside the cups until the kids could put them on the plants! But everyone had a good time. The kids love the garden — they especially love sampling the mint leaves and ‘petting’ the Lamb’s Ears.”
Q: What do you enjoy most about the Giving Garden?
A: Serving the community is its own reward, but Laura notes that the personal satisfaction gardeners get from working their beds extends way beyond enjoying the fruits of their own harvests. Socializing, learning and sharing with one another is just as fruitful. They teach each other about best organic gardening practices, composting, good nutrition and caring for the environment, and they get to spend healthy amounts of time outdoors.
Q: What have you learned from being a Partner Garden?
A: The communications thru NTFB e-mails are very informative. We have learned about opportunities for grants and fundraising, and we like hearing about other gardens and their successes. The Nutrition Cards are very professional looking and provide good information for our audience.
Q: What needs does your garden have?
A: 1. Two heavy duty posthole diggers 2. Professional staple gun 3. Fertilizers & Amendments like Dried Molasses, Wells Bros. Dirt Diet, Green Sand and Espoma all-purpose fertilizer.
Q: What is your garden’s biggest success?
A: The Giving Garden has been widely recognized by the community at large and has served as a model for other gardens. Las noticias matutinas de Dallas y Carrollton Leader have both featured interviews with our late founder Willie Lane. And in 2018 the garden was named an “Outstanding Community Organization” by the City of Carrollton.
Laura credits much of the success of the garden to the stability of its members and board. Many of them have been garden members for several years and have given the garden their whole-hearted support. Laura herself was one of the original members, getting her bed in 2010. She sums up the group’s ongoing commitment this way:
“Knowing that there are people out there depending on our fresh produce motivates us to garden all year. And about the only thing that will keep us from harvesting and delivering the Saturday produce donation is lightning.”
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Emily Anderson es la especialista en jardines del North Texas Food Bank.