Volunteers can reap harvest of SFA community garden

Jeff Adkins, Asst. Professor, SFA Dept. of Agriculture/Garden Director
Jeff Adkins, Asst. Professor, SFA Dept. of Agriculture/Garden Director
SFA Sustainable Community Education Garden
SFA Sustainable Community Education Garden

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Stephen F. Austin State University Sustainable Community Education Garden is a project that allows the entire community to reap the benefits.

"The purpose of the garden in general is to provide research , educational, and outreach opportunities for students, faculty, and staff at SFA but more specifically we're trying to demonstrate how to use sustainable practices to produce fresh produce," explains, Jeff Adkins, Director of the SFA Education Garden.

Very visible to the community, the garden located on Starr Street in Nacogdoches, attracts many onlookers and the biggest question many want to know is when can we harvest? Or, Can we go in and just get produce anytime we want?

Adkins explained it's not that easy.  "The way we do this {garden} is the bulk of the harvest from this area {pointing to the commercial garden} here is donated to local food kitchens."

On Monday, 175 pounds of fresh food was donated to the Project  H.O.P.E. food pantry, and they plan to make another major contribution Friday.

To make the major donations and to continue them requires a lot of work, the kind of work that comes from volunteers.

"We can always use volunteers. In addition to harvesting there's general maintenance, help with insect control, pest control we do a lot of hand removal of pests.  There are always things to do out here in the garden."

And volunteers get the opportunity to reap the benefits of harvest as well. In exchange for helping in harvesting workers can take home fresh produce for their families.

Adkins said, "Basically you come and harvest, you keep a small amount for yourself and the rest goes to the food kitchen and it's worked out very well so far."

The garden project is a great resource, it gives residents the skills and tools needed to produce their own fresh crops but, according to Adkins theft is becoming an uncontrollable problem.

"It's an open area we expect some people are going to take some, it's gotten a little bit out of control where we are having large amounts of produce disappearing," he adds, " We've found people being caught carrying away large bundles of sweet corn.  You can't hardly blame them it's delicious, but we've got to control it because we really do want to be able to deliver as much of this to the food kitchens as we can."

So as tempting as the fruit on tree may look the garden is serving a purpose, by providing for those families in need, but if you want to give a helping hand, contact Jeff Adkins at (936) 468-7850, or you can click here for a link to the garden's Facebook page for more information.

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