Monday, June 6, 2016

What We're Planting Now - June 2016

Gardens all over North TX are booming with all of the rain and sunshine we have been getting this Spring and early Summer. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen, peppers are starting to take off, and those who grow beans are not for a lack of the delicious legume.

Take a look at these DFW gardens and how well they are doing!

Tomatoes and Peppers doing well growing in rows!

Garlic is finally ready!

Malabar spinach season is a great time!

The native flowers are looking nice, too!
Stay up to date with the Community Garden and Urban Agriculture working group by visiting our website!

Join in on these local gardening events:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Garden of the Month - Multiple YMCA Locations (Fort Worth)

In September of 2013, the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth received a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to create three community gardens and enhance an existing garden. The purpose of these gardens was to implement wellness and garden-based learning for three early learning centers and two Y branch afterschool programs for school age children. The Amon G Carter Jr Downtown YMCA’s social responsibility committee had discussed having a roof top garden for a few years.  With this grant, the rooftop garden was created as well as gardens at Amaka Childcare Center in the Butler Housing Community and the Eastside YMCA.  As well, enhancements were made to the existing community garden at the McDonald Southeast Y. Two of our gardens are in food deserts.

Kyle Amato of Community Cultivators has helped us forge the creation and sustainability of the Downtown Y rooftop gardens, and the additional gardens at the Eastside Y and McDonald Southeast Y.  He created classes for three branches and has weekly work times to help recruit and encourage volunteers to sustain these gardens.  Lorie Grandclaire-Diaz created the Amaka Garden and is working with the children as part of her yearly Master Gardener Project.  Four volunteers from the Master Gardner Mod Squad have taken on McDonald Southeast Y in Southeast Fort Worth for their project.  Their commitment and work is creating a beautiful space out of the existing garden to bring the predominately senior community together over food and cultivation.  We are seeing the fruits of our work. Each community is different so the process of each garden becoming its own unique culture is evolving. 

This work has brought great joy and energy to our children and members that are involved.  Please come bring your expertise and ideas to our gardens.  We would love for volunteers to come teach us more as we walk this path.  For information please call me; Karen Kelly 817-566-1066.



Friday, April 29, 2016

Garden of the Month - Alliance United Methodist Church (Fort Worth)

In far north Fort Worth, just south of Keller, where crazy-busy commutes intersect with rushing to kids’ sports and school and shopping, Alliance United Methodist Church anchors a small corner, traditional white steeple atop a red-brick sanctuary. If you drive up Park Vista, just north of Basswood, and look between the baseball backstop and the children’s playground, you’ll see Alliance’s community garden, where church members and neighbors have been donating more than 600 pounds in 2015 to 1,100 pounds of food in 2014 to the Keller Community Storehouse.
Ellen Neff, who coordinates Alliance’s community garden activities, says the garden does far more than just provide fresh vegetables. “I’ve talked with the staff at the Community Storehouse, and they have to teach some of their clients how to cook the fresh vegetables. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we’re helping shape new lifestyles for people who needed a little help, kind of like we all do sometimes. It’s just one small way we can quietly share the love of Christ by feeding His people.”
The vision of Alliance United Methodist Church is to “connect, share and grow,” and the community garden has provided the perfect venue for all three. The garden contains about 21 plots, each tendered by church members, neighbors and small groups like the Boy Scouts or the church’s youth and children’s programs. It also features a small herb garden and a larger, circular community garden, where everyone pitches in for higher-producing crops for the Community Storehouse.
At the back of the property, the gardeners maintain a large compost bin, and at the back corner of the church’s Family Life Center, barrels collect rainwater for watering the gardens. Alliance’s gardeners are committing to using only organic fertilizers and weed and pest deterrents. On almost any evening, spring through fall, gardeners will be chatting about best practices for better-producing plants and the never-ending battle with birds and varmints that sample vegetables before the harvest.
The Alliance community garden has brought previously unconnected friends together, plus the church uses it for Easter and special mid-week worship. Last month, children from the church’s Wednesday night FaithWorks program planted vegetables, “made dirt” from the compost pile and took home hand-made Rosemary saches. And, in the midst of hectic suburban life, it’s become a quiet place for prayer, meditation and a little therapeutic digging in the dirt.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Advent Lutheran Church Community Garden Update

To celebrate Earth Day, we had a Community Garden Workday with Tucker Street Head Start Center on Saturday April 23.  Several staff and family members from the Head Start Center came and helped us weed, plant and water our garden.  We planted more peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and loofah seedlings.  Our loofah seedlings were started from last year plant’s seeds.  Head Start families were eager to plant seeds and water the gardens.  It was a great day spent outside together! Tucker Head Start Center receives the produce harvested from this garden.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What We're Planting Now - April 2016

April has been quite the busy month in North TX! Some of us got our tomatoes and peppers planted earlier in the year, because of the mild winter, only to be set back by several different hail storms which seem to happen once a week, in some areas.

Bouncing back from the almost instant destruction the hail caused seems like it is taking forever. So, we plant on! Gardens all over North TX are planting - or replanting - their spring crops. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and melons. You can grow a little bit of everything in Texas!

Spring also means getting our support systems in place and even seeing the first of the artichoke crop coming in. What a fantastic place spring in North TX is!

Keep us up to date with what is going on at your community garden by visiting our working group page!

Don't forget to check out these local gardening events - stay connected to your gardening community!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Garden of the Month - Village Garden, First United Methodist Church (Hurst)

Village Garden Begins Sixth Season

           When FUMC and Mission Central began the Mobile Food Pantry in 2011, Hurst Harvesters built the first four raised beds for the Village Garden.  With those four beds, we grew 250 lbs. of fresh, organic produce for our neighbors at Mission Central.   In subsequent years, we grew 512 lbs., 663 lbs., 644 lbs., and 388 lbs. respectively.    Initial funding for supplies and materials came from a grant through Tarrant Area Food Bank.  Currently, we fund the Village Garden through spring and fall bedding plant sales.

            In addition to growing fresh produce, the Village Garden provides educational and missional opportunities for various groups.  For example, three Eagle Scouts have earned their badges completing projects in the Village Garden.  Each year, VBS children learn and work in the garden; and several youth and student groups from churches and colleges have completed mission projects. 
            This year, we begin our sixth growing season. By sharing our expertise with African friends and area churches, we help others who are constructing raised beds for the 2016 growing season.
            You can be part of our exciting ministry.  Learning from co-leader, Master Gardener, Mike Goode; you can help us grow fresh, organic produce for Mission Central.  It’s time to plant for 2016!  Prayerfully consider joining Hurst Harvesters in the Village Garden.  We are waiting to welcome you!

            For more information, contact Mike Goode at:  or Vicky Otterman at:    

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What We're Planting Now - March 2016

It appears as if spring has sprung in North TX! We can continue to debate about the last freeze date and when to put out our tomato starts as long as we like, but the near future forecast looks warm and sunny.

Our gardeners have been busy putting in new garden beds, refreshing the soil with compost in our existing beds, cutting down cover crops, and taking care of the seedlings that will be ready to put out in the next couple of weeks.

Keep us up to date on what you've been doing at your garden. Visit our working group page here.

Sharpen your gardening skills at these local workshops:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What We're Planting Now - February 2016

As the mild winter continues here in North TX, our gardens continue to produce beautiful fall vegetables - cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, herbs and greens! Our dedicated and enthusiastic gardeners have begun to plan for their spring and summer gardens. Garden planning classes at TAFB's Learning Garden have been full of eager gardeners who have networked and planned for spring.

TAFB's Learning Garden also hosted a Vermicomposting project day where volunteers helped assemble two different styles of worm composting bins.

Keep us up to date on what you've been doing at your garden. Visit our working group page here.

Sharpen your gardening skills at these local workshops:

Plenty of good produce still
 growing in North TX!

Get your spring garden planned now!
If it's cold outside, start a worm bin inside!
Plenty of work left to do in garden! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Garden of the Month - Farming the Sprawl (Fort Worth)

A tiny but mighty movement to promote urban farming and homesteading in 

Fort Worth, Texas

FORT WORTH — The allure of homegrown heirloom tomatoes and fond memories of a grandparent’s garden often lead many people to give gardening a try.

But a lot of folks give up after a season of Texas’s unpredictable weather, the largest green caterpillars you’ve ever seen, or unproductive but luscious tomato plants.

That is where Tina Arons and her husband Austin Caraway come in to attempt to coax the most reluctant gardener with delicious concoctions from their own garden — from salsas and green tomato relishes to peach jalapeƱo jams and blackberry lemongrass kombucha.

Urban farming has grown in popularity over the last decade but many people dont know where to start, Arons said. Or they have given it a try without enough success to want to keep going.

“Sometimes the problems are easy to fix but the main component missing is a network of other gardeners to help troubleshoot,” Arons said.

With the help of her husband, she started Farming the Sprawl in 2014 to create momentum for a local urban farming and homesteading movement.

“I believe gardening is the key to creating healthy, active and happy lives,” she said. “My goal is to make getting started as easy as possible.”

Arons has taught classes throughout Fort Worth in connection to other local groups as well, including the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the Fort Worth Botanical Garden and Elizabeth Anna’s Urban Farm.

Now she offers free classes through Farming the Sprawl to teach people in her community various aspects of farm life: backyard chicken keeping, canning and preserving, container gardening and more. Her husband shares his own knowledge as well, including how to assemble a rainwater harvest system, build raised garden beds, and ferment kombucha.

Anyone interested in learning more can follow their Facebook page for upcoming events or keep up with the blog on

"In a time in which we never truly know where our food comes from or what's done to it, and in which we are becoming less and less connected with the things that bring us life,” Austin said, “it is more important than ever to dig our fingers in the soil and help everything grow.”

Tina Arons is a high school English teacher and farming activist in Fort Worth. She grew up on a ranch in the Hill Country but currently lives with her husband and four stepchildren in a quiet suburban neighborhood. With her husband Austin Caraway, she helped create an ever-expanding mini farm in the backyard.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What We're Planting Now - January 2016

It's the beginning of January and we haven't had a bad freeze yet in North TX. The holidays brought some cold nights and a dusting of snow that caused many gardeners to prepare for the worst. Without a lot of planting to do, local gardens have been covering (and uncovering) their crops, enjoying the continuous winter harvest, and starting to think about the seedlings needed for the next few months.

Let's take a peek at what our local community gardens have been up to for the last month!

Adding black, water-filled buckets
and covering with frost blanket will help
protect plants in the winter!

Don't forget to water and add
slow-release fertilizer - even in winter!
Saving last year's seeds and asking
 for leaf donations is a great way to save money!

Even the cold, winter months can be very
productive in Texas!

Keep up with the Tarrant County Food Policy Council and our Community Garden and Urban Agriculture working group here.

And check out  these local gardening events: