Column: Garden provides learning, nutrition

October 29, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

Since 1985, Palo Alto College has been a pillar of the South Side, supporting our community with access to quality higher education. The academic programs we offer have helped build an educated workforce that support the needs of local industries and build our economy.

San Antonio's close proximity to rural South Texas farming and ranching communities has supported the growth of Palo Alto College's Agriculture and Horticulture programs. Students enrolled in these programs not only benefit from top-tier faculty in the classroom, but also hands-on experiential learning outside of the classroom that prepares them for real-world scenarios.

On Oct. 28, we officially opened the Palo Alto College Community Garden, which seeks to benefit both the student population and the surrounding community. To support experiential learning, students from the Agriculture and Horticulture programs will conduct monthly workshops on Saturdays to teach community members how to plant, maintain, and harvest the produce in the garden.

The neighborhoods surrounding Palo Alto College are considered a "food desert" — an area lacking access to healthy, affordable food found at grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are most often in underserved communities, such as south San Antonio.

Similar to checking out a book from the library, the Community Garden contains plots which anyone from the community can check out and grow produce of their choice. When it comes time to harvest, community members can either keep the produce for themselves or donate it to the College's food pantry.

By providing increased access to nutritious, affordable food, our hope is that the Community Garden helps combat nutrition-related chronic health issues.
For more information, contact the College's S.H.A.R.E. Center at 210-486-3121.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and