Harker Heights: Growing City Garden Benefits Local Food Pantry

By: Kristin Gordon Email
By: Kristin Gordon Email

HARKER HEIGHTS (July 29, 2013)--Harker Heights opened its community garden in May 2011 and a wait-list quickly formed.

The city recently added 15 additional plots so more could share in the fruitful opportunity.

"This is a transient community. They may live in an apartment or rent a home and not have the luxury of planting a garden. This way they can plant and grow produce that they can take home and eat and they don't have to worry about their landlords, renters or anything like that," said Heather Cox, Activities Coordinator Harker Heights Parks and Recreation.

The 4-foot by 10-foot plots can be rented for six months for $12.50 or for a year for $25.

The garden requires organic methods so growers are asked to not use pesticides or herbicides.

Four of the plots have been designated for the Harvest Heights program.

“I knew of the Harker Heights Food Center and the lack of food coming in," Cox said..

"I figured, what a great way to educate the community and also maybe those that can't afford food, what a great source they can get just through their back yard." The program began in the fall and this is their first spring season.

The city checks for produce in the four plots twice a week and has delivered onions, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and carrots to the pantry.

Cox says there is a need at the food pantry.

"I visited them a couple of weeks ago and there was nothing on the shelves. They had like two cans of corn and they weren't looking to get any freezer items that week either.

There is definitely a need for people to donate food and money. I do believe about $2 to $4 will feed a family of four for an entire week."

The food pantry is at the Harker Heights First Baptist Church and serves as many as 300 people on Saturdays.

When food runs out, those who get turned away are directed to food pantries in nearby cities.

Cox said lower income residents who need food can enroll their children in the Killeen Independent School District Food Program.

"This helps offset the food needed for kids who may go without," Cox said.

A food drive is underway on at the activities center through Wednesday.

Donors can drop off the food in a blue bin.

"Doing the Community Garden through the Harvest Heights program is just very self-rewarding." said Cox.

"That I can help feed somebody that is trying their hardest to feed their family, but just can't quite do it. If we can fill that void in any way, it's awesome. It's the greatest feeling in the world."

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