Things are about to get growing in east San Antonio. On Thursday, city council approved a zoning change that will bring an urban garden to an area that desperately needs a healthy boost.
The four-acre site is on the 400 block of Garcia Street near the intersection of Rosary on property owned by the San Antonio Housing Authority.
They call the development exciting because the 190 families who live next door at the Springview Apartments will have fresh food right at their door steps. So will the students of the East IDEA School campus, which forms the southern border of the garden plot.
East-side gardening advocate Stephen Lucke calls the development an important step in building a healthier community from the ground up. Lucke, who runs an after-school program at the Ella Austin Community Center, knows that kids love to do the dirty work of gardening. He believes that the children will dig right in and learn lessons that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
“The best way to trick kids to eat veggies is to get them to grow it. They see the entire process from seed to plate,” said Lucke, who added that a number of community partners have been working for at least two years to make this day a reality. “We knew that the east side was a food desert. We knew that the east side didn't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. And so having an urban micro-farm, we felt, would be a good step in the right direction.”
“One of the things that we heard from the residents was, 'We don't have enough access to healthy food options. We need to bring more of those here,' and I think the urban farm is going to be part of that solution," said Rosario Neaves with SAHA, who noted that from the youngest to the oldest, all neighbors will benefit. “It's going to be great for families to enjoy together. It's also going to create job opportunities on the east side and access to better overall healthier nutritious food.”
Lucke also said that locating the garden next door to a school campus is a great idea.
“I think being able to have urban farms in the back yards of schools is a great way to create garden-based learning, agriculture-based learning. This is really just the beginning of something that's really going to grow and start a trend for all schools and institutionalizing growing your own food and using it in the cafeteria,” Lucke said.
Neaves said that SAHA will be taking community input for what to grow in the garden. The first community meeting is scheduled to take place February 15 at 6 p.m. at the SAHA center at 1912 Montana.
Neaves said that they want to get growing quickly so that neighbors will be able to enjoy their first harvest by year’s end.