Organized in 2009, the Westbury Community Garden is the largest and one of the most successful community gardens in Houston. The mission of the garden is to educate adults and children about good nutrition and ecology, strengthen community spirit, provide organically-grown food, and serve as a gathering place for the community. The WCG encompasses a 7-acre property including: 62 organic garden plots, 2 orchards, a tree farm, an outdoor learning pavilion, pollinator gardens with native plants, 2 compost systems, rain catchments, and a restored pocket prairie. Additionally, 2 acres are leased to Plant-It-Forward Farms, an organic farming training program for refugees.
WCG hosts community events and training including organic gardening classes, the Annual Tomato Tasting, Houston Astronomical Society star parties, and Urban Harvest’s Autumn Harvest Celebration, in addition to educational programs with the Houston Health Museum.
As much as the Westbury neighborhood celebrates the garden’s success in its first 9 years, in order to maintain the pace of growth and increase the garden’s capacity, WCG has developed a master plan for new developments on the property. Phase 1 of the master plan implementation includes grading to make drainage swales through the property, a new entrance and permeable paving for driveways to support the increase in vehicular traffic, and several new parking areas to accommodate a greater number of community visitors.
The use of swales and permeable paving will conserve water on the property; lessen the impact of heavy rains on street flooding; allow rainwater to soak into the ground and recharge the water table; support the WCG’s orchards, gardens and prairies, as well as encouraging wildlife to move into the newly augmented habitat. The Garden also hopes to see an increase in biodiversity on the property with the development of swales planted with bog-loving plants. The water catchments and appropriate plantings will increase insect populations, followed by amphibians, birds, and small mammals on the property.
WCG has about 75 members, all of whom fulfill volunteer hours for the common areas of the garden. Additionally, the garden hosted over 400 volunteers from 21 organizations in 2017, and hopes to grow that number in 2018. The Outdoor Learning Pavilion serves as a community meeting place, a shady spot for garden volunteers to rest, a platform for meetings and community classes, and a focal point for harvest festivals and other events in years past. True to the garden’s slogan “Growing Community through Gardening”, gardeners from different backgrounds, cultures, and circumstances come together on WCG’s 7 acres to produce food, tend to habitat, and forge bonds of community.
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