tarrant area food bank

Tarrant Area Food Bank Learning Garden Cultivates Change

The Tarrant Area Food Bank isn't just about giving food to people in need. The Learning Garden program teaches people how to grow their own food.

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On Thursday morning volunteers fanned out over a corner plot of land, tending the Tarrant Area Food Bank Learning Garden.

"We're gonna head over this way and I'll show you the blackberries," Lauren Hickman said to a young new intern. "This space is a place where we can teach people how to grow their own food, and when you have that education, when you have those skills, it's not something anyone can take from you."

The Learning Garden program was stalled by the pandemic. The gardens were kept up last year, mostly by employees. Now the volunteers are back.

"I'm ready to get back to this," TAFB President and CEO Julie Butner said looking over the garden. "This is how we help people get on their feet and get on with their lives."

TAFB helped feed a growing line of people in crisis during the pandemic. The Learning Garden program is meant to help shorten the line.

"We may lose a job, we may lose a house, but we can't lose the skills that we have learned," HIckman said.

"That's exactly right. This is teach a man to fish," Butner said, referring to the proverb. "You can grow tomatoes, and cucumbers, and carrots from an apartment building. You don't have to have a big plot of land."

The Learning Garden has an outdoor kitchen onsite to teach people how to use the fresh produce, and recipes online to follow.

The fruits and vegetables harvested from the Learning Garden are packaged for TAFB partners in areas where fresh produce is hard to find, and average life expectancy is lower.

"This is the part that really means the most to me," Butner said. "It's helping people out of a crisis."

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