The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service event will unveil the Vegetable Garden Enhancement Project created by the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners on June 3.

The recently enhanced vegetable garden in Fort Bend County with raised beds with green plants in them. A few people stand in the foreground preparing for the opening event.
The Vegetable Garden Enhancement Project was made possible by a USDA grant and the investment of Fort Bend County Master Gardeners. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Master Gardeners)

The event will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. at 1402 Band Road in the garden area behind the Bud O’Shieles Community Center, Rosenberg. Visit http://tx.ag/VGEP to RSVP for the ribbon cutting.

“This program was put together to address food deserts and educate both rural and urban citizens and youth on the benefits of locally grown fresh produce and greening of the urban landscape,” said project director Peggy d’Hemecourt, Fort Bend County Master Gardeners.

It aims to empower urban communities to use agriculture and conservation as a platform to promote education, sustainability and community as well as helping provide food and environmental benefits, she said.  

In addition to providing residents in need with food assistance, the garden is used to teach youth and adults about growing food successfully in the home landscape.

The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational volunteer program conducted by AgriLife Extension. Throughout the year, Master Gardeners deliver a variety of programs in cooperation with AgriLife Extension.

The garden is an applied demonstration of successful food production, and Master Gardeners routinely conduct trials of vegetable varieties.

Project goals

The Fort Bend County Master Gardeners undertook the project with these objectives in mind:

• Enhance learning experiences in a garden setting about natural resources conservation and home food production.

• Improve local access to healthy, affordable food by increasing produce donations to a food pantry that benefits low-income residents and seniors.

• Conserve water by harvesting rainwater for use in the demonstration garden and teach residents how to replicate it at home.

Grant, Master Gardeners funded

A community vegetable garden as seen from overhead. Green plants in raised beds are in rows abov ethe brown soil. Cement is seen on both visible sides of the garden structure.
A bird’s-eye view of the enhanced vegetable garden created by the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy of Master Gardeners)

The Fort Bend County Master Gardeners applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in Texas for Urban and Rural Conservation grants for the Vegetable Garden Enhancement Project. The four grant components were community gardens, pollinator gardens, high tunnels and rainwater harvesting systems.  

The Master Gardeners were awarded a $9,000 grant for projects involving community gardens and rainwater harvesting systems. Those funds, combined with an investment from the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners, made the enhancement possible.

Unusual circumstances, outstanding effort

“Back in March of 2020, just as COVID-19 quarantines had settled upon us all, this grant announcement came to me via Jayla Fry, our Texas Master Gardener program coordinator,” said Boone Holladay, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Fort Bend County.

“With little time to prepare prior to the application deadline, I reached out to several of our Master Gardener volunteers here in Fort Bend County, and they were honored to accept the challenge. Now, over two years later, we are wrapping this project up, and we all couldn’t be prouder of what we were able to build, especially within the confines of COVID-19 restrictions.”

Susan Himes
 
Susan Himes is a writer and media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She writes news releases and features from science-based information generated by the agency. She also covers human interest stories and events across the state.