CSI volunteers at Third Ward community garden
For the second day of the Center for Student Involvement’s Community Action Break, CSI teamed up with South East Houston’s Transformation Alliance to help with their community garden.
SEHTA’s community garden is located within the Third Ward, on the corner of Griggs Road and Beekman Road. In an area that most consider a “food desert”, the garden helps provide for those who are in need.
“I know (the area) is a food desert, and I know there’s a lack of grocery stores in it,” master gardener for SEHTA Terry Garner said. “One way you can help supplement these people with fresh fruits and vegetables is through gardening.”
Led by Hollie Yang, graduate assistant for leadership programs with the Center for Student Involvement, her and three other students spent Wednesday morning of their spring break volunteering in the garden.
“It’s a good thing what they’re doing for the community,” Yang said. “Volunteering is an important aspect for students, especially for the college experience. It’s very rewarding to see that they’re wanting to give back to the community.”
At 9 a.m., the volunteers got their hands dirty shoveling holes for new trees to be planted, hammering down trellises for vines and gathering compost.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult to find people dedicated to gardening because it requires discipline, it requires teamwork and most of all it requires love of gardening,” Garner said.
The hard work wasn’t enough to make these students to shy away from volunteering on their much-needed break.
“I feel like it was a good way to spend my free time that I have to give back to the community, and experience and explore new areas I’ve never been to before,” freshman computer science major Victor Le said.
Victor wasn’t the only volunteer who did not know there was a community garden there. In fact, none of the volunteers were aware there is an all-natural community garden in Third Ward’s back yard.
From gathering its own water to piling up its own compost, the garden does everything it can to make sure its produce are completely natural and caters to the community.
“It’s different,” senior psychology major Ja’Lissa Iles said. “I really love the fact that they’re giving back, at what seems like no cost. We’re building spinach to go along the fence, so if someone is homeless or can’t make it to a grocery store because of the distance or lack of transportation, they can just pick it from here.”
Not only did the students appreciate the commitment the garden had to its neighborhood, but they also appreciated CSI’s commitment to staying involved in its own backyard.
“It’s good to help out each part of Houston,” freshman business marketing major Daniel McDonald said. “There shouldn’t be just one good part of Houston. All of it should be good.”
McDonald said he is grateful to be doing work that is meaningful to the community.
“I actually like doing this,” McDonald said. “I wouldn’t want to be volunteering by cleaning up roads or where it’s littered. We’re doing meaningful work, not just picking up after someone who was too lazy to find a trashcan.”
The garden, now in its third year of existence, is always taking volunteers during the week, Garner said and it’s looking to expand.
“We want this to be a staple in the community, the garden and the farmers market,” Garner said. “I hope we get more volunteers, I hope our farmer’s market gets bigger and it gets more vendors. That is my ultimate goal; for this place to be a meet-and-greet and also provide fresh fruits and vegetables for this community.”
For those who would also like to make a difference, they can view all of SEHTA’s programs and upcoming events at SEHTA.org or on their Facebook page.