Palo Alto College Community Garden shrinks food desert

By Donovan Garcia II
Pulse Staff Reporter

Palo Alto College’s Community Garden showcases a new phase of agriculture and horticulture programs to PAC students and the wider community.

The ribbon-cutting on October 28, 2019, allowed students, staff and faculty to set foot in the state-of-the-art community garden. Funded by a five-year, $2.6-million grant, the community garden’s design is simple with room to grow. It is structured to bring agricultural-based education to students while combating food deficits. 

Palo Alto’s Community Garden will not only serve the student body but the community, as well. Alongside the Food Pantry and S.H.A.R.E Center, the community garden will join PAC’s programs to help those who are in need of food. 

Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto, said, “The community garden is one of several ongoing initiatives by Palo Alto College to combat food insecurities within our community.”

The produce raised from seedlings will be nurtured by PAC’s students and its horticulture programs. Not only are students volunteering in the gardens, but the horticulture programs are assisting students by hosting workshops to amp up their knowledge and increase their agricultural awareness. Students, faculty and community members will have the benefit of harvesting produce for their personal consumption or donating it to the Food Pantry for others to enjoy. 

The community garden gives access to healthy food through a combination of fresh vegetables, such as cabbages, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, carrots and onions.

“Seeing all of this truly makes me happy. I grew up in a small South Texas town where items like this are grown all the time. I’m glad others can enjoy this living in the city,” said Ruby Jo Peoples, a sophomore at Palo Alto studying Kinesiology. 

The community garden opened its doors to Phase One of six phases. Over the next several years, the plan is to expand the garden into a one acre plot. Each phase is designed with different layouts for modernized agricultural setups. Raised beds, a greenhouse, accessible vineyard paths, rain gardens, native plantings and a new parking lot are in the works to bring larger crowds to the garden.

The Community Garden took a lot of preparation and teamwork to begin. Students, faculty and staff have partnered with several outside entities to join hands and create the garden for the South Side of San Antonio and its citizens. 

President and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, said, “As I look out to those raised beds and the accessible gardens, it’s hope for nourishment,”

The San Antonio Food Bank is one of the largest hunger relief organizations in Texas. Cooper has seen first-hand what potential the community garden possesses. He has been a key advisor within the project’s development.   

The community garden is an outside classroom, giving an education to inexperienced students who would like to obtain a green thumb. For more information, contact the S.H.A.R.E Center at 210-486-3121, or visit the community garden on the corner of West Villaret Boulevard at Jennifer Street.

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