BRYAN, TX — The Brazos Valley Food Bank runs a multi-bed garden, tended to by clients of the food bank’s ‘Together We Grow’ program, as well as volunteers from the local community.
This garden doesn’t just exist to fill hungry bellies – although it does that too. In addition to feeding food bank clients, its fruits and veggies serve as teaching tools. The garden is tended to by volunteers, and managed by members of Together We Grow, a five-week course on job skills and long goal achievement.
“[Together We Grow] really helps prime folks for their career – not just their job in the community, but a career," said Alaina Jalufka, Together We Grow program manager.
Clients learn leadership and management skills by overseeing community volunteers; volunteers like the Neal family of College Station. Local mom Stacy Neal and her five children have been volunteering at the garden every week this summer, plucking weeds and planting seeds.
“They welcome kids of all ages," Neal explained. "And I thought, it’s perfect! We can do something together.”
While the garden teaches food bank clients about team management, Neal said it’s actually been teaching her little ones, too. The family has no prior experience working in a garden, so the kids have been able to learn about plant growth and harvest – plus, a little something about the act of volunteering.
“Often the kids will ask, 'do we get to take the food home?'" Neal said. "And I tell them, 'no, it's not for us, it’s for other people who maybe don’t get the opportunity to go to the grocery store and get fresh produce. They can come here and get this produce and take it home to enjoy.'”
As the garden continues to expand and bring in more clients and volunteers, Alaina Jalufka says she hopes that its bounty and benefits can inspire a new relationship between Aggieland locals and fresh food.
“We want to grow things that are accessible, but also things that are appealing and want to make people explore produce," Jalufka stated.
Those interested can find out more about together we grow by visiting the food bank’s website.
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