Produce from the garden / TxN Garden Manager: Debroh Glaze
NRG Energy is a Houston-based Fortune 500 company that generates electricity and provides energy solutions and natural gas to millions of customers through a diverse portfolio of brands. In 2019, NRG approached Texan by Nature (TxN) to collaborate on ways to enhancing the conservation mission of its lignite mine reclamation project for the benefit of the communities around Jewett, Texas. This conversation resulted in extensive research by the TxN team and ultimately a recommendation to use the land to alleviate food insecurity in the area. Texan by Nature is now partnering with NRG to build a 10-acre garden on the site. In May of 2021, we broke ground on an initial one-acre plot, which will yield up to 10,000 pounds of fresh produce per year for the community. The first planting took place in the Fall of 2021.
“Beyond our standard reclamation practices, we wanted to find a way to benefit the community over the long-term. We’re excited to partner with Texan by Nature to realize this vision in a special community that’s been part of the NRG family for 40 years,” said Chris Moser, executive vice president of operations of NRG Energy. “The NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will benefit the community by growing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs while helping teach residents of all ages about agriculture and nutrition.”
A leader in collaborative conservation initiatives, Texan by Nature is managing the project in partnership with local organizations including local agricultural extension offices, a coalition of food banks and the Master Gardeners program. It will also be a unique educational resource for local K-12 schools. Additionally, the project will serve as a model for how businesses and local charities can partner to tackle rural food insecurity and conservation education elsewhere in Texas.
According to the USDA and Feeding America, the three-county area surrounding Jewett is a food desert, with many residents living over ten miles from the nearest grocery store. Food insecurity rates here are 51% higher than the national average. The garden will provide produce to local food pantries, supplying healthy food for up to an estimated 3,000 people every year.
“Most of our clients are unable to regularly buy fresh fruits and vegetables, due to the cost. Thanks to the support of NRG and Texan by Nature, the garden will be a true blessing for all of us,” says Kathleen Buchanan of The Lord’s Pantry of Leon County.
“This project, sponsored by NRG and Texan by Nature will be one that impacts not just our clients but families across a three-county area,” says Kristy Vandegriff from the Leon Community Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Jewett, Texas. “Statistics show that Leon, Limestone, and Freestone Counties are three of the least healthy counties in the state, with high obesity and diabetes numbers. Being able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis will help our clients make choices for better health.”
In addition to accessible raised beds, the garden includes a rainwater harvesting system that provides water native pollinator plants that were incorporated into the design to provide habitat for butterflies and other pollinators.
Call for Volunteers: Volunteers needed in Freestone, Limestone, Leon counties and the surrounding areas to support the garden manager. To volunteer, please contact NRG Dewey Prairie Garden Manager Debbie Glaze at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right now the garden is seeking the following:
Establishment of partner network to bring awareness and community support to the garden
Food pantry collaboration for planning and distribution