During our visit to Palo Duro Canyon State Park we escaped the heat and ventured into Amarillo, where we spent the morning volunteering in the Garden at the High Plains Food Bank. Established in 2009, the one-acre Garden can supply the community with 20,000 lbs of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs every year.
The Garden is home to chickens, turkeys, goats, ducks, rabbits, and honeybees, who all play an important role in the Garden’s success. During our visit we had fun running around trying to catch a sneaky chicken that escaped from the pen.
I was so impressed to learn that everything grown in the Garden is organic, including a wide variety of heirloom plants, and that nothing goes to waste. Staff explained how the Garden strives to be a sustainable operation and showed us the water catchment system where rainwater is collected to help water plants. The system can be completely filled with only two inches of rain to the Amarillo area.
Not even the weeds here go to waste. We pulled buckets of weeds from the garden beds and used them to feed some very appreciative goats. The Garden uses animal manure, items from the food bank that can’t be distributed, and coffee grounds from local coffee shops to make compost that supplies rich nutrients to the plants.
The Garden offers gardening workshops and other opportunities for community education. It’s also a very popular spot for school field trips. A walk around the Garden is an educational experience in itself, with informational plaques placed throughout the grounds and knowledgeable staff.
In addition to the Garden, the High Plains Food Bank operates the Kids Cafe, which prepares and supplies nutritious meals to children in the Texas Panhandle. Meals are delivered daily to local community centers, apartment complexes, schools, and churches and are provided to children at no charge. The High Plains Food Bank has several other programs to help battle hunger, including its unique Hunters for the Hungry program, which provides meat to local food assistance providers through donations from hunters and meat processors. To learn more about the High Plains Food Bank or to get involved, visit their website here.