NRG Dewey Prairie Garden Ribbon Cutting

Tag Archive: garden

  1. NRG Dewey Prairie Garden Ribbon Cutting

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    Located on 10 acres of a reclaimed lignite mine near Jewett, Texas, the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will provide 10,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to help alleviate food insecurity in Leon, Freestone, and Limestone Counties. NRG, Texan by Nature (TxN), and community partners officially unveiled the garden with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 2, 2022, where 80+ individuals gathered to celebrate the opening.

    The garden, which includes a wetland area, pollinator habitat, and a future orchard is an initiative of positiveNRG, NRG Energy’s philanthropic arm, and is managed by Texan by Nature. Additional garden partners include Texas Master Gardeners, Texas A&M Agriculture Extension, and the local food pantry coalition. 

    Leon County 4-H students presented the flags and lead attendees in the US and Texas pledges.

    According to the USDA, the tri-county area surrounding the garden is considered a food desert. Many residents live over ten miles from the nearest grocery store. Food insecurity rates in the region 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. Garden managers surveyed and collaborated with local food pantry leaders to determine foods of highest need, including potatoes, beans, green leafy vegetables, carrots, peppers, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, and blueberries.  

    “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,”

    -Kathleen Buchanan of Lord’s Pantry of Leon County

    The project’s roots go back to 2019 when NRG approached Texan by Nature to collaborate on ways to enhance 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.

    Cilantro is one of the many fresh food items the garden provides.

    “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,”

    -Chris Moser, executive vice president of operations of NRG Energy

    Although the ground was first broken on the NRG garden in May of 2021, the land has been at work through the reclamation process for over a decade. In 2013, the Jewett Mine site was awarded the coveted Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award for reclamation activities at the site before being purchased by NRG in 2020. Reclamation accomplishments at the mine include planting 3,500 acres of native bunch-grasses and constructing 700 acres of wetlands, which provide habitat and water to native wildlife and pollinators. The garden’s design also incorporates native pollinator plants to attract bees, butterflies, and support a healthy ecosystem for the garden and surrounding areas. The NRG mine staff also used their ingenuity to reuse materials no longer in use at the mine, such as PVC pipes, tanks, and a solar array that were repurposed for use in the garden. 

    The garden team manages crops in orderly rows with labels at each end.

    In addition to the benefits for people and natural resources, the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will be an educational field trip and project site for local K-12 schools, 4-H, and FFA programs. Students will learn about agriculture, ecosystems, and nutrition through hands-on opportunities at the garden. 

    “The NRG Dewey Prairie Garden is an excellent – and replicable – example of a diverse set of partners coming together for big impact. This project creates an immense, multi-community impact for years to come, and we’re proud to act as the central connector to achieve the vision of this garden.”

    – Amy Snelgrove of Texan by Nature

    Fresh vegetables like broccoli are a priority item for local food pantries.

    TxN is proud to be working with NRG, the Dewey Prairie Garden partners, and members of the community who made this project possible. Rooted in purpose, we wait for the first harvest and look forward to seeing the positive impact the garden will have on people, prosperity, and natural resources in the community for years to come. 

    Learn more about the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden here: https://texanbynature.org/projects/nrg-dewey-prairie-garden/ 

     

  2. 9 Natives Showcase Garden Volunteer Day

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    Interested in volunteering at the 9 Natives Showcase Garden at the Houston Museum of Natural Science? This monthly volunteer opportunity is the perfect way to get involved and support native plants in the heart of Houston!

    On the second Monday of each month, volunteers will maintain the garden by pulling weeds, planting new native plants, and monitoring the garden’s growth. Volunteers of all ages and experience are welcome to join this come-and-go event.

    Physical Requirements: Bending, kneeling, or sitting on the ground; some light lifting.

    Recommended Clothing: Hat, closed toe shoes, and long pants.

    What to bring: Water in a reusable water bottle, garden gloves (or the museum has disposable vinyl gloves), and any garden hand tools that you have such as pruners (or scissors), trowel, tool for weeding. KPC will also provide tools.

    The 9 Natives Showcase Garden is located outside of the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the corner of Hermann Park Drive and San Jacinto Street.

  3. Farm Volunteer Day

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    Volunteers are needed at the Growing with Sara Farm. Get your hands dirty pulling out weeds, planting seeds, and harvesting crops!

    Make sure to bring water, gloves, and sun protection. RSVP required.

    Free breakfast!!

  4. Green Team – Coolgreen Park

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    August’s Green Team will be hosted at Coolgreen Park. They will be repotting trees that have outgrown their pots. It will be mostly stationary and mostly in the shade, so this will not be an over-strenuous event especially given the August heat. Hope you can join us!

    What to bring:

    – Mask

    – Gloves, if you have them

    – Water

    – Hand Sanitizer

    What to wear:

    – Closed-toed Shoes

    For Acres Homes and Third Ward residents, give your thoughts on future Healthy Outdoor Communities projects to improve opportunities for you and your neighbors outside for their mental and physical health.

  5. Green Transformation: From Mine to Garden

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    Texan by Nature is partnering with NRG Energy to build a garden on the site of their former lignite coal mine near Jewett, Texas. An initial one acre plot is currently under construction, with the opportunity for the garden to expand up to 10 acres. Upon completion, the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will provide up to 10,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to local community food pantries.

    We recently asked the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden team about the history of the site and their vision for the future of this unique reclamation project.

    Tell us a little about the history of the Jewett mine and the reclamation process.

    NRG: Mining along the lignite belt running across the middle of Texas goes back to the early 1900s. In 1979, Houston Lighting and Power obtained rights for 15 miles of the coal belt near Jewett for a 35-year supply. After that, NRG in 2020 purchased the mine and assumed responsibility for reclamation efforts with the goal of restoring the land to a better condition than before mining started.

    In 2013 the Jewett Mine site was awarded the coveted Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award for reclamation activities at the site. Reclamation accomplishments at the mine include planting 3,500 acres of native bunch-grasses and constructing 700 acres of wetlands. Use of new technologies, software and specialized equipment is helping with stream reclamation that mimics natural processes.

    NRG Garden Glass
    The mine reclamation process included planting 3,500 acres of native bunch-grasses

    TxN: We first visited the Jewett Mine site in fall 2019. We’re quite familiar with rural Texas, but we weren’t sure what to expect of this site given the images you typically see of mining operations. We were blown away by the pristine beauty of the reclamation site. For miles in all directions, all we saw was native prairie grasses waving in the breeze. We had the opportunity to meet with many mine and NRG team members who were passionate about the land, community, and best sustainable options for their operations and reclamation. It was obvious during these discussions that this attention to impact and environmental concern were entrenched in the culture and had been in place for many, many years.

    What was the inspiration for the garden and how did it come to be?

    NRG: An NRG board member was familiar with Texan By Nature’s mission and noticed how well it aligned with the mission of NRG’s philanthropic arm, positiveNRG. We began working together, and the planning firmed up for what became the garden. A reclaimed section of the Jewett mine was a perfect way to bring the idea to life.

    positiveNRG is a central part of our identity – enabling partnering with change-making non-profits like Texan By Nature to positively contribute to the places where we live and serve.

    Positive NRG Volunteers
    positiveNRG Volunteers in Houston

    TxN: We had the wonderful opportunity to get to know one of the NRG board members at a dinner. He talked about how they wanted to take the reclamation of the mine site to the next level and do something more for the community. He asked if we had any ideas. Our team took the question and did a lot of research on the area. We ended up discovering that the food insecurity rate in the area was 50% higher than the national average and the soil and climate is near perfect for growing many fruits and vegetables. After consulting with a few TxN partners, we put a proposal together and outlined a plan for a garden to serve the food pantries in the tri-county area. The more conversations we had, the more excited we became with the vision for the garden and working with positiveNRG to bring the garden to reality.

    How does the project fit in with other sustainability projects that NRG is doing?

    NRG: NRG’s sustainability efforts are wide-ranging – from our employee groups who volunteer countless hours for community efforts to the Dewey Garden to financial goals tied our sustainability efforts. The Dewey Garden effort was a perfect fit.

    TxN: From our perspective and knowledge of NRG, it’s a perfect fit. The passion for sustainability and community is obvious in every conversation we have with NRG team members. From knowing the history of the community to sourcing the project locally to reusing materials from the reclamation in the garden construction efforts, the project implementation has been seamless with the NRG team.

    What is your hope and vision for the future of the garden?

    NRG Dewey Prairie Garden Carrot

    NRG: In this project, the goal is to provide fresh and nutritious produce in a food desert and create a supply for local area food banks. Our goal is to be resilient; to look to the long game. When we refer to sustainability, we want to invest in projects that help people thrive so that we can all achieve our highest potential. The Dewey Garden and Texan By Nature are exactly what we need to assure that hope and vision continues for a long, long time.

    TxN: First and foremost we want to work with the fertile land in the Jewett area to provide consistent, fresh, nutritious produce for this community. We also want the garden to serve as an example of collaboration between industry, community, conservation, and education. One that inspires others to look at their resources and operations and dream of new ways to create long term positive impact.

    Learn more about the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden on the garden project page.

     

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