HSC Community Garden continues to provide organic fresh produce to food banks

By Oreoluwa Obayan

Garden Shovel Plot Web

The HSC Fort Worth Community Garden continues to grow fresh organic produce for those experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic — while following guidelines for physical distancing and sanitizing.

The garden last year donated 150 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks and the HSC Student Food Pantry.

This spring the garden, cultivated by community members as well as our students, staff and faculty, continues to provide fresh food to the Northside Inter-Community Agency, as the garden has done since its founding. In partnership with the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the HSC garden also will serve other food banks, as the need arises. TAFB has increased its distribution of food 65 percent in the past few weeks.

Celina Esekawu
Celina Esekawu, Community Garden Administrative Associate

Several gardeners who aren’t coming to campus during the coronavirus crisis have granted permission for others, including Community Garden Administrative Associate Celina Esekawu, to plant and tend their plots. The Office of Sustainability plans to continue growing food in all 35 of the 4-by-12-foot plots.

“My expectation for the garden is that it will yield more food than last year by reaching our goal to donate 300 pounds of produce by the end of the year,” says Esekawu. “However, even if we aren’t able to reach our goal, the main priority for the garden right now is to serve the community and supplement the high demand for food among our students and community members.”

“The garden has donated 1,324 pounds of organic vegetables, herbs and fruit since it was established six years ago,” says Sustainability Coordinator Sandy Bauman. “When we donate to food banks, we take about one-fourth of what is ripe from each plot. Our gardeners are free to use the rest for themselves or in many cases, the gardeners donate to others more informally.”

Community Gardener of six years Sherry Burton, Senior Financial Manager for Institutional Advancement, says, “I like knowing that I’m helping those who may not have easy access to food.”

The work is good for the gardeners, as well. “Gardening can be relaxing and a good exercise and fresh-air activity,” says Senior Associate Dean for Family Medicine David Mason, DO. “It feels good to help the HSC community garden and its local partners.”

The HSC Office of Sustainability and the Sustainability Committee first launched the garden in 2014 with 16 plots, turning a quarter-acre of lawn into yet another way HSC promotes a healthy community, plus sustainable food production and nutrition knowledge. The garden is maintained by HSC students, staff and faculty, and community members.

Abiding by CDC recommendations, garden access has been tailored to fit the Stay-At-Home Order. HSC’s Facilities Management Department requests that gardeners:

  • Minimize time in the garden. The usual requirement of shared tasks, such as mulching paths, has been suspended.
  • Practice prevention measures when working in the garden.
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet between people.
  • Use hand sanitizer, soap, gloves (garden and nitrile) and face masks while moving in and out of the garden.

More information on the garden is here.

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