By: Sarah Snyder
ODESSA - They're gathering up the seeds and soil and getting ready for a big community-wide garden. The City of Odessa along with multiple agencies are digging in and helping folks save cash on the grocery bill and learn how to grow a healthy diet.
"I think the time is right, people are interested in learning about vegetable gardening and growing their own food," Debbie Frost, a Texas Agrilife Extension Agent, said.
Put away the grocery carts, the West Texas Food Bank along with Texas Agrilife and the City of Odessa are teaming up to create a community garden.
"I think it's going to teach them skills," Frost said. "I think people get a lot of satisfaction and a lot of pride when they learn how to grow vegetables. It's a very fulfilling thing."
United Way offered the food bank a $10,000 grant for the garden, the City of Odessa plans to loan property, and over 150 extension agency volunteers from around Midland and Ector counties will help develop the garden.
"We do see a lot of younger families, younger mothers and it's important for them to know that you don't have to open a can to get food," Karina Tarin, Organizer with the West Texas Food Bank, said. "It's important for them to know how to put a meal together. If they know how to grow food, they'll have a better understanding of the nutritious concepts in general."
They're dividing the garden into three sections: one to support the food bank, the second for individuals and families to plant gardens, and another for youth groups like scouts and school groups teaching the next generation how to plant healthy crops.
"They need to know the basics of good healthy nutrition and having a healthy diet and this is a great way to see everything from the beginning," Tarin said.
That's where the Texas Agrilife Extension Agency comes in.
"How to prepare the soil, when to plant, what vegetables to plant, and the techniques it takes to get a good quality finished product," Frost said.
And in a changing economy, one of the most important things they want families to know is how to conserve the food they already have.
"It's important for all of us to use our resources to the best we can," Frost said. "I think people can save on their food bills, it's good exercise, it's good for you mentally and physically. I think there will be a lot of good outcomes when people learn the skills of gardening."
"I think this is going to play a major role in changing people's eating habits," Tarin said.
If you're interested in getting involved the Food Bank is on the hunt for sponsors and volunteers. They're still in the early planning stages but they hope to get the project rolling just as soon as the City Council chooses a site.