Food Bank community garden aims to teach important skills

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - A new community garden has been created at the Brazos Valley Food Bank to serve as a learning lab for their new program.

Together We Grow was started to help teach skills to the unemployed and underemployed in our community.

"What we're trying to do is empower folks to develop personal/professional goals that will help lead themselves and their families to an improved state of food security," said Alaina Jalufska, program coordinator.

The course is five weeks long and helps members grow their life skills. Some of the program is spent in the classroom setting. They will also spend time in the new community garden to apply skills they've learned.

"It serves as a soft skills application lab. When they participate in the program they're tasked with managing the garden as well as its volunteers," said Jalufska.

In the 15 raised beds they will plant things like cucumbers, peppers, and spinach. The gardens will be watered through a special 12,000 gallon rainwater system the food bank installed.

"As we collect rain from the roof it will be the sole water source that these will use to grow and produce all the vegetables that are grown in the garden," said Jalufska.

With all of the rain the Brazos Valley had in the past month, the rainwater system is three quarters of the way full.

It's not just a learning lesson. Participants will be able to harvest the vegetables they grew and take them home to their families.

"Any surplus produce that we have available will be inventoried here at the food bank and made available to our partner agencies to go out to gout out to our community members in need," said Jalufska.

The pilot year of the program will come to an end when June wraps up. Jalufska said they will then begin offering the program four times a year. Each program will be able to hold 12 participants.

"Our vision at the food bank is a hunger free Brazos Valley and Together We Grow is a program that's really going to help us work towards achieving that vision," said Jalufska.