Community Garden awaits grant funding, upgrades

Commerce – The Commerce Community Garden hopes to receive grant funding to help expand what's become an increasingly popular site since its creation two years ago.

Hunt County Commissioners Monday gave approval to move forward on obtaining a pass-through grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The grant, if approved, would provide more than $36,000 in funding for the construction of a fence around the garden, plus a sheltered educational facility to be built on site.

"The Community Garden has been a tremendous success, far more than what we had anticipated," said Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Latham. "Also, the participation has been tremendous from all the different groups that had come in."

Latham gave thanks to Hunt County, the cities of Commerce and Greenville and the Community Garden Association for their help in maintaining the site, which is located behind the First United Methodist Church off Highway 50.

Crews began work on the garden, in fall 2008. The garden's first growing season was spring 2009.

"Our original intention was to have an area where students could grow food that they normally couldn't buy at the local grocery store, and that the only way they could get it was to grow their own," said Latham.

Most of the participation, according to Latham, comes from community members and students at Texas A&M University-Commerce for research.

Anyone is welcome to purchase a raised bed at a cost of $32 per year. The site currently has close to 50 raised beds.

Latham says there's a very good possibility they'll be approved for funding, as the grant is not that competitive. He hopes to hear back from the USDA within the next three months.