Home News Local News Boys & Girls Club plants seeds for the future with community garden

Boys & Girls Club plants seeds for the future with community garden

Program Coordinator Rebecca Bitner, Brooklyn Gamble, 6, Eliana Garces, 10, and Marley Moorehead, 9, look over their new plants donated by Westlake Ace Hardware for the new community garden at the Boys and Girls Club, 201 S. Garden Avenue. The city of Roswell’s Parks and Recreation Department filled the old pool with various types of soil and, on Thursday morning, children and Boys & Girls Club staff planted everything from butternut squash to edamame. (Alison Penn Photo)

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A community garden at the Boys & Girls Club has put down roots in the nourishing soil of collaborative effort.

On Thursday morning, the Boys & Girls Club, the city of Roswell’s Parks and Recreation Department, New Mexico State University’s Chaves County Extension Office and Healthy Kids Chaves County emptied bags of soil and planted a variety of seedlings in the closed down swimming pool at 201 S. Garden Avenue.

“It’s something that the community over here needs,” Natasha Welt, Resource Development Coordinator of the Boys & Girls Club, said. “We’ve got all kinds of stuff — tomatoes to peppers, to sunflowers, to pumpkins — kind of all of it. We’re going to open it up and get it going.”

A brother-and-sister team, Caleb and Caleigh Scott, volunteered their time as ambassadors of 4-H with NMSU Chaves County Extension Office with Andrea Stapp, the 4-H agent, on Thursday morning. Caleb Scott, 14, and Caleigh Scott, 11, are also members of the 4-H Council and will be in sixth and eighth grade, respectively, at Sierra Middle School in the upcoming school year.

“I’m glad that the kids learned a little bit how their food gets onto their plate and in the restaurants — that it doesn’t come from the supermarket,” Caleb Scott, the 4-H council reporter, said. “They don’t grow it in the supermarket. It actually takes real people and real working hands to do it — and they’ll think it will probably taste better because they did it themselves.”

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“It looks fun just to see all of these beautiful plants growing and that God made these plants for us eat and for us to do things with,” Caleigh Scott said, describing how she felt about helping with the garden. “It feels amazing — it feels like I’m helping other people that just care about the plants and what God gave us as a gift.”

Tim Coughlin, executive director for the Boys & Girls Club, said the first year of the garden will be kept under close watch and it can potentially be open to the community next year when it is more established. Coughlin said the intention is to fill one-third of the pool to start and consider possibilities for future growth, such as community member plots, donating to food pantries, and even sending food home with families that utilize the Boys & Girls Club.

Saying there has been exponential momentum at the Boys & Girls Club, Coughlin said the city has repaired the roof of the facility and is preparing an application for a Community Development Building Grant for improvements. Coughlin said he discussed the idea of filling the empty pool with a garden with Parks and Recreation Director Jim Burress in December, and is “amazed at the outpouring” of community help.

“We’re trying to make it look better in the community, back to where it should be and back to where it used to be,” Coughlin said.

Burress said along with his crew helping, the city’s streets department hauled 140 to 160 truck-loads of soil to fill the pool, which closed around five years ago, and that Home Depot donated compost for the garden. He added the garden will be an integrative, educational experience with the Boys & Girls Club kitchen.

“We always want to do that — we want to help the kids as much as we can and teach them whatever we can that will help their lives,” said City Councilor Savino Sanchez, who was driving by and decided to help on Thursday. “This is an experience that they won’t forget.”

Coordinators of Healthy Kids Chaves County, Paula Camp and Becky Joyce, were present to lay the foundation for new growth in community nutrition and promoting opportunities for citizens to consume fresh, homegrown produce from gardens. Camp said the organization works with the Boys & Girls Club every summer and also collaborates with the Chaves County Extension Office by implementing programs to “encourage healthy eating for quality of life.”

Saying that any community wants to have healthy citizens that are productive and supportive, Camp said there is camaraderie created when working in a garden, which she added is essential to a healthy community.

“We’re starting — I think fairly small,” Camp said. “We’re hoping in years to come it will grow and we want the people in this community that surround this area to be able to come and work in it and share in the produce. We can send the produce home with the kids.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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