Prairie View Smith County Ag. Agent Hosts Senator John Cornyn’s Visit to Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project

June 6, 2011

TYLER, TX – U.S. Senator John Cornyn made a visit to the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project in honor of its first anniversary and second harvest on May 31. Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Smith County agricultural agent, George Green, along with Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, Judge Sam Griffith of the 12th Court of Appeals, and members of the East Texas Food Bank gave the Senator a detailed tour of the garden that is helping to feed hungry East Texans.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, second from right, tours the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project with Cooperative Extension Smith County agent, George Green, left, Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith and Judge Sam Griffith.

Senator Cornyn viewed the four acres of land and supplies that were donated by local businesses and commended the volunteers, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and agent Green for partnering to make this innovative project successful.

Cornyn said that the Community Garden Project was a great example of what can be done in the state and hoped that it could be replicated throughout Texas.  Currently there are peas, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, beans and peppers planted in the garden.

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith initially had the idea for the garden project in February 2010 because statistics show that out of a total population of 174,706 in Smith County, 67,779 of that total are at risk of hunger. Sheriff Smith approached the East Texas Food Bank with a plan to provide fresh produce to those in need and the plan blossomed into reality.

Prairie View Cooperative Extension Smith County ag. agent, George Green, shows off potatoes that were harvested at the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden.

Green was already working with the Tyler Growers Association, the East Texas Food Bank and volunteers on several of his agricultural projects, and he teamed up with Sheriff Smith, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and Judge Sam Griffith to form this successful partnership.  Green and the Smith County Extension office are providing the farming expertise for the project, and the Sheriff’s Office is providing Smith County prisoners to work the land.

In a previous news release provided by the East Texas Food Bank, Sheriff Smith was quoted as saying that the community garden project was a win-win situation because there was an increasing need of the East Texas Food Bank and the prisoners needed something to do.

The first harvest of tomatoes took place at the garden in July, 2010. The second harvest in May yielded potatoes. Executive director of the East Texas Food Bank, Dennis Cullinane, expressed his appreciation for the garden’s success, and, as he stated previously, he knows that fresh produce is always in demand, and the Community Garden Project will allow the East Texas Food Bank to increase the nutritional value of food that is provided to the hungry.

For more information about the Tyler East Texas Food Bank Community Garden Project contact George Green at 903/590-2980, ggreen@ag.tamu.edu.

Writer: Gloria J. Mosby, program director – Communications
Photos: Alecea Rush, communications specialist – Cooperative Extension Program

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