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Helping Center workday grows vegetables, relationships in Marble Falls

All Burnet County 4-H clubs came together Oct. 12 to assist The Helping Center in Marble Falls with its gardens. The club members, parents, leaders and club managers got their hands dirty pruning, sifting through Alpaca waste to make fertilizer, spreading coffee grounds for the compost piles, trimming bamboo, clipping and more. Helpers included Kayla Ables (back, left) and Sharon Ables; Addyson Randall (middle, left), Kylee Randall and Mimi Moran; and Piper Moss (front, left) and Haylee Randall. Courtesy photo


MARBLE FALLS — Gardening grows vegetables, but it also offers a place for nurturing relationships — whether family or community.

“Sometimes, we have these generation gaps, but gardening has a way of helping close those gaps,” said Pete Smith, a member of the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners.

On Oct. 27, the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners in conjunction with Starbucks is giving families, groups and individuals an opportunity to do just that during a workday 1-4 p.m. in the garden at The Helping Center of Marble Falls.

“This actually serves two purposes,” Smith said. “It’s a fundraiser, but it’s also an educational and community program. This is a chance for us to help the community become aware about the garden project.”

The Highland Lakes Master Gardeners started the garden adjacent to the food pantry, 1315 Broadway, several years ago as a way to help grow fresh produce for the center. But the garden has grown into much more.

“It’s also a place where (Master Gardeners) can share what we know with other people,” Smith said.[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: Workday at The Helping Center garden
WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Oct. 27
WHERE: 1315 Broadway in Marble Falls
FOR MORE: Call Pete Smith at (903) 569-7174 or Karen Wilkens at (512) 789-3955[/box]

But the workday also provides a great backdrop for building a community. After all, there are not many better ways to get to know your neighbors or develop stronger bonds with a child than getting your hands dirty — all for a good cause.

And, as Smith said, the workday can bring generations together. Children who might not have thought they had much in common with their grandparents discover something that links them.

A bond is built.

“We’re encouraging people to bring their families and children,” Smith said. “We’ve had 2-year-olds and even 20-year-old (children). Make it a family affair.”

The workday serves several purposes. For one, it’s a chance for the Master Gardeners and volunteers to get some needed work done at the garden. All the vegetables grown on the patch next to The Helping Center go into the pantry and help feed the facility’s clients.

Smith said the Master Gardeners will divide people into teams with each focused on a particular task such as weeding, clearing brush or spreading alpaca manure (yeah, you read that right).

Workday volunteers also can learn about growing their own fresh vegetables. Because if you ask a Master Gardener about gardening, they’re going to share everything they know.

Starbucks is offering grants based on the amount of volunteer hours worked during the event. The more people who show up and help, the more possible funding received by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners. And that money goes back into the garden.

“We’ll use that money for more supplies,” Smith said.

The only thing people need to do is show up. Smith recommends people wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.

“Other than that, we just need warm bodies,” he said. “No experience necessary.”

Call Smith at (903) 569-7174 or Karen Wilkens at (512) 789-3955 for more information on volunteering, the workday or the Master Gardeners program.