Driving up to the to the Food Bank’s new property in Pharr one could be confused by seeing an abandoned, deteriorating and old warehouse. But behind the eye sore is the genesis for the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley’s new project.
Ignacio Almaguer, Board President of the Food Bank and Pharr Leadership Class XXII member got together with the rest of the class and they decided to give back to their community with a garden.
“Back in August 2009 we got together and we wanted to participate in a project that had a very big social impact and what better way than to partner up with the food bank,” Almaguer said. “What we’re doing now is that we decided to do the Pharr Community Gardens.”
For now the gardens began with 12 raised beds where students from a nearby elementary planted fruits and vegetables.
“We’re telling these children that you can grow your own fruits and vegetables with out any pesticides,” Almaguer said.
The Food Bank has 14 acres at the site and eventually it will become the community garden.
“We want to add more of these gardens for the community,” Almaguer said. “We want to stress that these gardens belong to the citizens of Pharr and we also want to let people know this is the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley.”
There is an old cotton gin on the property that is going to be rehabilitated and will become the center where people can congregate.
“We also want to rehab that old building which is a cotton gin,” Almaguer said. “What we want to do with that cotton gin is if you have a garden here you can either take the food home or sell it at an open air farmers market. That farmers market is registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
Eventually the Food Bank wants to be able to have the water stream down into barrels when it rains so they can use it in their gardens. It’s part of the whole reduce, reuse and recycle.
“It’s not going to buy stuff that you’re not going to eat,” Almaguer said. “Here it’s growing stuff that you are going to eat and if you don’t want to eat it sell it. We’re not going to sell it as far as the Food Bank is concerned but we want to give back the power to the people so they can grow they’re own produce.”