texas living: PeoPle & Places August 2008 going green People & Places Urban Harvest teaches classes, $eatures a $armers market, and creates gardens in schools and communities throughout the city. By g bry D. F'rd, photography M f!
M dK#&& fy Houston Grows Wi'h aai'h in Ho(&'on &oil and wea'her, children and ad(l'& o a 12 con bre ba'ion& 'end Brae& In'er aai'h Comm(ni'y garden. texas living: PeoPle & Places August 2008 \x2 texas living: PeoPle & Places August 2008 F or a city blessed twice with tomatoes each year, Houston must be )ull o) gardens. Well, it 9s getting there.
Neighbors tend community gardens. Donation gardens nourish the hungry. Children learn to distinguish corn )rom beans in schoolyard plots.
Homeowners carve gardens )rom backyard carpets o) St. Augustine grass. Others, limited by space and time, raise a container or two o) tomatoes or herbs and shop at Bayou City Farmers Market.
cHow Green is my Houston? d a resident might ask. It 9s Greener since Dr. Bob Randall, a volunteer )or the )ormer Houston Hunger Coalition, )ounded Urban Harvest more than a decade ago.
Today its sta\x2 o) 13 o\x2ers expertise in organic gardening, beginning with one very important lesson about Houston 9s ... more. less.
dirt. It needs some help. cIt 9s clay gumbo, d says Kara Masharani, outreach coordinator o) the nonpro t organization.<br><br> cOne o) the rst lessons we teach is to use raised beds. d Giving that gumbo a hand up, Houstonians watch their gardens fourish in the greenhouse climate we otherwise know as muggy Houston weather. Sweet Potato Teachers Knowledge itsel) )ertilizes many o) these gardens. Urban Harvest classes 4held at its headquarters in the )ormer Anson Jones Elementary School in Houston 9s East End 4include Growing Organic Vegetables, Starting Your Own Plants in Containers, and Sell What You Grow at a Farmers Market.<br><br> Some stu- dents inevitably sell at Bayou City Farmers Market, which Urban Harvest )ounded. Elsewhere, some o) the city 9s most enthusiastic gardeners are the youngest. Since it began, Urban Harvest has worked with 50 schools that turn a portion o) school grounds into outdoor classrooms.<br><br> Sweet potatoes are among the best teachers )or schoolchildren who think )ood begins in the )rozen )ood aisle at the grocery store. Youngsters plant the potatoes in spring and return to harvest them when school starts in )all, while learning that soil, sun, rain, and time grow good things to eat. Carol Burton and Michael Godoy oversee Urban Harvest 9s A)ter School Program in 19 Houston schools.<br><br> More than just digging in the dirt, garden activities combine math, science, nutrition, exercise, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Kids and parents love it. cAt the )armers market, a parent came up to me and said, 8I thought this was a nothing program, but it has been the best thing )or my child.<br><br> It 9s the only thing she wants to talk about when she gets home, 9 d Carol says. Greening Vacant Lots Some o) those youngsters may go home to gardens that fourish near their homes. Neighbors work plots in these community gardens )or their own tables and to donate to others.<br><br> At the 17th Street Garden, one o) the plots is handicap accessible. Meredith Gardens turned a vacant lot Green with organic )ruits and vegetables in grace)ul, curved beds. Other new growing areas heal the blemishes o) abandoned lots in underserved Houston neighbor- hoods.<br><br> The City o) Houston provides the )unding to break up concrete and prepare the soil. Then Urban Harvest works with community residents to help them turn eyesores into eye-popping gardens. So )ar, three vacant-lot gardens fourish.<br><br> Houston, says Urban Harvest volunteer Ray Sher, looks Greener and eats healthier these days. cAll around me are gardens, d he says. cI think Urban Harvest had a great deal to do with that.<br><br> Thousands come through those classes that are jam-packed. This has an enormous impact near their homes. d All can experience that at Bayou City Farmers Market, where this year 9s second crop o) tomatoes will arrive during Houston 9s long, warm )all. " People & Places going green Ur c b& H br, f)* c$ b))r''m Most classes at Urban Harvest are scheduled in the evenings and on Saturdays at the $ormer Anson Jones Elementary School at 2311 Canal Street.<br><br> Bayou City Farmers Market is located in the back parking lot at 3000 Richmond Avenue, between Kirby and Bu$$alo Speedway. It is open 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday.<br><br> Visit www. urbanharvest.org, or call (713) 880-5540. Fru#* f'r *h f n fw Y f br Although Houston 9s winter weather sometimes firts with $reezing temperatures, citrus still grows great here.<br><br> That 9s why Urban Harvest 9s annual Fruit Tree Sale, the third Saturday in January, draws so many. In $our hours, buyers snap up 6,000 $ruit trees. cEvery year some trees can produce between 600 and 1,000 $ruits that taste wonder- $ul, d says Ray Sher, volunteer chairman o$ the sale, which is held at Emerson Unitarian Church.<br><br> leFt: Bread, ve be'able&, ar(i'&, and more fll vendor boo'h& a' Bayo( Ci'y Farmer& Marke'. above: E b bplan' i& j(&' one o a many kind& o a prod(ce yo( will fnd. RigHt: Many home bardener& &ell 'heir &(rpl(& bo(n'y a' 'he marke', which i& open 8 a.m.<br><br> 'o noon every sa'(rday, rain or &hine. above: schoolchildren a' Herod Elemen'ary school di b in 'he barden and learn abo(' cycle& o a brow'h. <br><br>