Commerce Community Garden Replanted


Todd Kleiboer

The Commerce Community Garden is already producing food for some, and others are just starting to plant.

Todd Kleiboer, Web Editor

With spring in full swing and summer around the hot, humid corner, the growing season for multiple fruits and vegetables is open. Gardeners at the newly revived Commerce Community Garden behind the First United Methodist Church are taking advantage of it.

“Here in Texas, we’re lucky,” Serve Team Chair Amy Stark said. “We have things that grow all year round. Cucumbers, squash, broccoli, you name it.”

The community garden was originally started around 2000, and the members of the original group set up the grow beds and ran piping for water to the garden. However, three years ago, the community garden disbanded, but that setup, 17 years after its installation, still exists.

“For 10 to 12 years, there was a group, but they got burned out,” Stark said. “It’s a lot of work, and there was a lack of interest at the time.”

In honor of the late Bob Mills, a member of the original gardening group, the First United Methodist Church decided to try to resurrect the garden, and gardeners are already signed up to their own plots.

“We wanted to bring back this garden in order to honor him,” Stark said. “He put a lot of hard work in the community garden, and we didn’t want to that to go to waste.”

However, the church faced a problem: they could not bring back the garden single-handedly. At the same time, Dr. Bob Johnson and Commerce Community Action Program (C-CAP) were looking to start a community garden. So members of C-CAP, FUMC and the community have teamed up in an effort to revive the Commerce Community Garden.

C-CAP is currently offering funds to reduce the cost of a single plot, which is $35 annually. People can apply for these subsidies and for a plot through an application at Huffmans Farm Supply at 1100 Bonham Street. The store is open from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. C-CAP is working also to plant a few acres of row crops for the community to harvest later this summer.

“We know everyone may not be able to afford a plot or two, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of having a garden,” Stark said. “With C-CAP offering these scholarships [subsidies], more people can come to the garden and have something to plant.”

Community gardens also offer distinct advantages to the gardeners to even the communities that host them. According to research done by Lamar University, gardeners could save between $75 to even $380 every season, and this could be life-saving for low-income families. Also, the nutrient-rich foods grow in a community garden can improve the diets of low-income families, which may eat nutrient-poor, inexpensive foods.

A report by the University of Missouri Extension reads “most advocates today claim that community gardens have permanent, long-term functions that provide a number of benefits to individuals, families and communities.”

The plots’ dimensions are four feet by 12 feet, and the north side of the garden is reserved for organically grown food while the south side is non-organic. The First United Methodist Church is located on the other side of Highway 24 beside Alliance Bank.