Tea Thyme Cafe food drive to promote locally grown produce

The staff at Tea Thyme Cafe, including Lori Bingham (left), Ashley Bagwell, Janet Wilson, Brandon Smith and Kevin Golden, are holding a food drive for The Helping Center of Marble Falls as well as a volunteer signup for the community garden next to the food pantry. The restaurant is also donating some of its proceeds from Dec. 22-24 to The Helping Center. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton


MARBLE FALLS — On most days, restaurants rely on trucks to bring in regular supplies of produce and other foods to meet customer demand. But one Marble Falls restaurant is demonstrating how turning to a community garden can enhance the dining experience as well as support the garden.

Tea Thyme Cafe, 2108 U.S. 281, is holding a canned food drive through Dec. 24 to help out The Helping Center of Marble Falls. But it’s not just about collecting canned foods.

“We’re also promoting The Helping Center’s garden, and we’ll have signups for people interested in volunteering at the garden,” said Lori Bingham of Tea Thyme Cafe. The garden, located adjacent to the food pantry at 1315 Broadway St. in Marble Falls, produces vegetables throughout the year with the bounty going to The Helping Center clients.

The Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association maintains the garden with assistance from community volunteers and organizations. The idea behind the garden was to provide fresh produce for the food pantry as well as offer a place people can learn about gardening with the idea that they could grow some of their own vegetables.

Bingham said the community garden has helped many people over the past few years, and Tea Thyme wanted to do something to assist the food pantry and the garden.

The restaurant is even going to show how locally grown foods can be used both in home and in professional kitchens.

“On the morning of Dec. 22, we’re going to go out to the garden and pick some vegetables and use them over the next few days in our recipes,” Bingham said. “And from Dec. 22 through Dec. 24, a portion of the proceeds will go to The Helping Center.”

Bingham explained that some people may hesitate at the viability of using locally grown produce, but Tea Thyme’s efforts will show how using fresh, in-season produce not only makes sense but adds to the eating experience.

It’s one of the tenets of the farm-to-table movement, which encourages people and restaurants to utilize locally grown produce, and even meat, as a healthy alternative to relying on trucked-in food. This type of farming has shown tremendous benefits in a number of ways, from increasing the sustainability of local producers to reducing the amount of energy used in growing fruits and vegetables.

“Fresh produce is really what’s in season, and right now, a lot of that is your leafy vegetables such as kale,” Bingham explained.

People can sign up at Tea Thyme to volunteer at the community garden as well as drop off a non-perishable food item. Bingham said she hoped to have donation boxes out at several other area businesses to collect food.

Call (830) 637-7877 for more information.


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