The partners who are working together to create a four-acre urban farm in the heart of east San Antonio gathered this week to throw wild flower seed bombs and take part in a ceremonial first planting.
The Garcia Street Urban Farm is located in an area the U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified as a food desert.
Hungry customers will come from a nearby affordable housing complex and the Eastside IDEA school campus, among others. Partners said the project is a component of the San Antonio Housing Authority's Choice Neighborhoods Critical Community Initiatives plan. Funding has been provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant.
San Antonio College President Robert Vela called the collaborative effort a bit of magic. “This is a great day for San Antonio College because we are in the business of empowering our communities, and what a better way than teaching them about sustainability, teaching them about urban farming, to do it for themselves, to eat in healthy ways, to be able to have the knowledge to have a successful family household,” he said.
Garden designer Shannon Brown said “We're taking our agricultural heritage and we're moving it forward to our agricultural legacy, creating the future of Texas farming.”
Brown said she designed the garden with swales to catch as much rain water as possible. The water, she said, is essential to growing a good crop and preventing downstream flooding. “What we're going to do is catch the water in these conservation terraces and we're going to direct the water down this landscape, so that rather than running off and being wasted, we're harvesting that water to grow trees, to grow crops and really nourish this community," she said.
They will be growing more than plants, Brown said, adding, “That's one of the greatest things about gardens is that every garden requires a gardener. Every farm requires a farmer. The best yield from this place isn't going to be the food, but really with the community involvement here because we're creating a space for people to connect and form a stronger community, that's based around this system here.”
It's just a stone's throw from the Stock Show and Rodeo grounds, where locals have been learning about and supporting agriculture for generations, Brown said. “One of the great things about spaces like this is that they produce people that are passionate the environment, helping to create the next generation is really a central part of this project and I'm filled with an incredible amount of joy to see this much support for the type of work we're doing.”
Brown says they hope to harvest their first full crop this fall. See an artist’s rendering of the new project at 218 Garcia Street, created by Shannon Brown:
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