Houston is now a bit prettier, fruitier and greener thanks to the new City Hall Victory Garden downtown. This past weekend, several teams of volunteers came out to complete round one of the project: clearing the land, tilling the soil, setting up planters, and planting fruit trees and the first round of veggies, herbs, and edible flowers. And what will the city do with all this fabulously fun local produce? While plans aren't official yet, it looks like some will go to the volunteer gardeners, and the majority will be donated to food pantries downtown.
This Thursday, September 30, the city will host a second planting session from 9-11 a.m. Volunteers ready to get their hands dirty will add additional veggies, herbs, and edible flowers to the mix. Then, at 11 a.m., Mayor Annise Parker will host a groundbreaking ceremony alongside the City of Houston Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian, City of Houston Parks and Recreation Director Joe Turner, and author of Fast Food Nation and co-producer of Food, Inc., Eric Schlosser. And then we'll see how this garden grows... While it won't be filled with silver bells, cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row, it certainly adds a lovely flair to a previously concrete jungle.
The creation of the City Hall Victory Garden is just one part of an initiative to create greener downtown areas. If the name sounds familiar, you might remember that the first victory garden in the U.S. was created at the White House under the direction of Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II; Roosevelt hoped to encourage Americans to increase their own food production while so many farmers were off at war. More recently, Michelle Obama established her own version, and now Mayor Parker is leading by example locally.
Houston's new Victory Garden, located in the Tranquility Park at 400 Rusk, is sponsored by Urban Harvest, Keep Houston Beautiful, Asakura Robinson Co., Fischer Schalles Associates, and Texas AgriLife/Texas Sea Grant.