Mansfield Community Garden at East Broad Outreach Center
As we become better educated about the food we are eating and feeding our families, people are learning to question how their food is being grown. In a culture of canned goods and produce departments at the grocery store, many people are returning to farmer's markets and growing their own food, or at least some of it. And why not? Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are scary things. So I was thrilled when two years ago my daughter's Girl Scout troop joined a community garden. They rented a raised bed at East Broad Outreach Center in Mansfield. It's a great service project for their troop, growing vegetables which they donate back to the food bank.
The first work day, the girls all commented on how small the bed looked, until they realized they had to get down and pull all the weeds growing in it! The "box" had just been laid on raw ground, and the grass and weeds were numerous. But the girls (and moms) started pulling and digging, and soon it was all turned over and mostly weed free. They then mixed in the mulch and planted their first garden. Proudly, they all stood back wearing a look of accomplishment on their faces, and dirt under their fingernails. But mainly accomplishment on their faces.
Now, four growing seasons later, the little bed has produced tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries, bell peppers, okra, squash, watermelon, cantelope, asparagus, radishes and carrots. It's alot for a little 4X12 plot. My daughter says she loves the food from the garden, and that it taste better than what I buy in the stores. She's a very picky eater, but she's tried almost everything that we've grown, including the eggplant!
The East Broad Outreach Center has been more than a garden spot to the girls, too. They meet monthly to pick up trash on the grounds, reveal their inner O'Keefes by painting garden boxes, and helping to restock the food pantry, which provides assistance to Mansfield residents. The yearly Girl Scout Twilight Camp is held each summer in the back of the 6 acre property, which is filled with mesquite trees and bunnies and even an occasional road runner.
If the idea of tilling the earth and reaping what you sow appeals to you, stop by the garden to have a look around, located at 4517 E. Broad St. Mansfield, or contact them at 817-539-0581. The 4' x 8' beds are $16 and 4' x 12' beds are $24. For an additional $10 they will set up an automatic watering system. All they ask that a small percentage of your harvest goes back to the food bank. For the novice growers, advice and suggestions are plentiful from the other gardeners. The EBOC also offers weekly church services, as well as monthly yoga classes, introductory guitar lessons and special events. For more information, visit their website; www.eboc.org.