Fresh vegetables will be back on the menu at the The Helping Center of Marble Falls food pantry after a year without a community garden. The Helping Center garden will be officially christened The Garden Powered by the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners at Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls — The Garden for short. The official title is long but fitting of its new location, which provides more space and the opportunity to introduce exciting new gardening techniques.
“The whole thing is designed with the idea to provide fresh, organic, and free vegetables to The Helping Center and also serve as an education center for the community,” said David Waldo, one of the Master Gardeners and volunteers who have helped with the move.
A new location became necessary when The Helping Center announced its impending change of address from 1315 Broadway to the Community Resource Center currently under construction at 1016 Broadway in Marble Falls. The old place is for sale; the new place has no garden space. Trinity Episcopal offered a 100-foot-by-100-foot plot of land behind the church at 909 Avenue D in Marble Falls to keep the project growing.
“Trinity has been wonderful,” Waldo said. “You know, everyone around the community has been great. If we needed something, if we asked, we got it.”
The move began last summer, resulting in a loss of the fall growing season as gardeners transferred soil and equipment from the old site, built new fencing, installed a rainwater collection facility, constructed an education pavilion, and added a new — and much nicer and larger — storage unit. They also installed 23 raised beds, three of which are wheelchair-accessible.
“The old garden was not really planned out,” garden manager Suzy Rowley said. “This one has been planned from the ground up.”
At the previous site next to The Helping Center, the garden only used a portion of the open space. As need and demand grew, so did the garden, a little bit at a time.
“Here, we had the chance to start from scratch,” Waldo said as he toured the new site.
One exciting new feature is the addition of keyhole gardens using a technique developed for arid parts of Africa. Keyhole gardens are built up much higher than a regular raised bed, almost to adult hip height. They are usually circular in design and have an opening from the exterior to the center that, from above, resembles a keyhole. The design gives gardeners easy access to the entire garden, including an area for compostable materials, which replenish nutrients. The height of the garden, the compost, and the design result in less watering.
Other improvements include a deer-deterring fence and an educational facility where Master Gardeners can hold public gardening classes.
By the way, volunteers do not have to be Master Gardeners to lend a hand at The Garden.
“It’s a place to come and learn to garden,” Waldo said. “Everyone is welcome.”
Master Gardeners hold workdays at The Garden from spring through fall on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The hours are in the morning, but check the Master Gardener website at burnetcountyhighlandlakesmastergardener.org for more information. The Garden is located at 909 Avenue D in Marble Falls.