ODESSA, Texas — Fresh, organic produced is now being grown at the new Atmos Energy Pantry Garden on the Odessa College campus. The garden was started by the staff at the Wrangler Food Pantry, the school's food pantry, once they noticed more students and staff who use the pantry wanted more fresh vegetables.
"We are partners with the West Texas Food Bank and once we will get produce and the students would really enjoy that for their families and we couldn’t keep it long enough in our small space so the idea behind the garden was to continuously grow something so we can add to what we could get from the food bank and have some thing on a more recurring basis and be more sustainable," says Kristi Clemmer.
Atmos Energy sponsors this garden and has given $30,000 towards any supplies needed.
Clemmer says how they offer a wide variety of 35 fresh produce, "peppers, squash, tomatoes, eggplants and a lot of different things we're trying to see what students prefer and then when the season changes will change it out for the different fall crops."
Another reason the garden was started was to help the food insecurity problem that has gotten worse since the pandemic.
"We do have a lot of families that have came through for the summer because the kids are out of school and they don’t have as much access and also to our students that maybe lost their job in the pandemic or this is their first time they had to ask for help for anything," says Clemmer.
So far, the garden has been a success with the Wrangler Pantry feeding around 1,800 families. They are planning for a fruitful garden year-round by planting flowers to prevent pests, long shade as covering and a drip irrigation system to water every plant.
"As we get produce in we let them know we got some eggplant, peppers, tomatoes so far and they're really receptive to the idea to get their family some fresh produce," says Clemmer.