The city of Pottsboro is looking forward to a new, healthy and hands-on dining option: a communal garden.

Expected to open in the spring of 2017, the garden and it’s various educational workshops will provide members of the community with the space and knowledge needed to cultivate their own organic fruits and vegetables.

“We’ll be teaching people how to grow their own food and that seems to be a lost art in this day and age,” Robin Jones, who is managing the community garden project, said.

The one-acre garden will be located in James G. Thompson Park, and will offer raised and handicapped-accessible planter beds that the public can rent either for the growing season or for the entire year. Following the principles of permaculture farming, the sustainable garden will be built on a foundation of natural, compostable materials and remain free of pesticides and fertilizers.

The garden will also be the site of events and activities such as nature and farming-focused classes, yoga sessions and even pot luck dinners made from the very produce grown at the site. Various clubs and organizations are also expected to contribute to the project including youth groups, churches and local schools.

Funding for the community garden began with Pottsboro Area Library Director Dianne Connery and Betty Roether. As Connery and Roether considered what project would serve as the basis for another grant application to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, they recalled that some of their library goers didn’t have access to transportation and that Pottsboro had few grocery options.

“It’s a food desert here,” Connery said. “If you don’t have transportation and you live in Pottsboro, you may be doing all your shopping at the dollar store. Imagine having young kids and trying to cook nutritious meals for them on a budget with food that you get at the dollar store. So, we saw the need to provide fresh fruits and vegetables and teach health literacy, so people would understand what nutrients do for their bodies.”

Connery acknowledged that the library went out on a limb in asking a literacy-focused organization to help fund a community garden, but when they ran the idea past the commission, the response was one of support.

“They were actually excited about the idea and encouraged us to submit a grant application for it,” Connery said.

The pair drafted an application and submitted it for review in March. In August, the application was approved and the garden project received nearly $50,000 in funding.

Pottsboro City Manager Kevin Farley said city was unable to fund the entire community garden project, but once it received the grant, Pottsboro agreed to donate the acre of land from its park as well as provide the water needed to keep plants alive.

Farley said the project was positive addition to the community and one that will benefit the well-being of residents.

“It’s another opportunity for the citizens of Pottsboro to be able to be outdoors, to learn about gardening techniques, about the plants and to use that to maintain good health,” Farley said.

One Pottsboro citizen excited by news of the garden was Lydia Pine. Pine signed on as a project volunteer and said she is excited to connect her family with other people who value nature and the outdoors.

“I’m really excited just about the group getting together and meeting like-minded people and forming that connection,” Pine said.

Community Garden Manager Robin Jones said even if participants are different from one another, the effort of growing healthy foods in a sustainable way is a shared goal and one that will people together.

“It will draw people together that are of different ages and classes,” Jones said. “It will be something that they can have in common.”

Jones went on to say that once that connection is made, the gardeners will have much to discuss and much to to enjoy:

“They’ll be able to talk about the different seeds that are working for them, how they’re taking care of the food they’re growing, and how they’re preparing it. And then to sit down together and to share a meal will be really great.”