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Outpouring of community support highlights groundbreaking ceremony

Outpouring of community support highlights groundbreaking ceremony

Story by Beverly Moseley

The rains fell. The wind blew and cold temperatures prevailed. However, upwards of 100 people braved the inclement weather to be a part of Carthage, Texas history during the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the Hometown Garden.

Jane Ray of Carthage and Jill Burkindine of Manhattan, Kan., sisters, own the land where the more than one acre garden is located at the USDA Service Center in Carthage.

This is a unique garden. It�s a U.S. Department of Agriculture People�s Garden national initiative site. It also is the only privately owned initiative garden in the world.

�It�s the only one like this in the country and the world,� said Livia Marqu�s, director of the USDA People�s Garden Initiative. She traveled from Washington, D.C., to speak at the event.
 
The national initiative was launched last year in an effort to establish gardens across the globe at USDA facilities. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called on USDA employees to help assist local communities in establishing these sites.
 
�It is an example of what the Secretary envisioned,� Marqu�s said.
 
This garden exemplifies the mission of the national initiative, such as incorporating sustainable agriculture practices, while benefiting a community as a whole, she added.

Mission Carthage will be the primary beneficiary of fresh produce grown at the garden.

�Our hope is that Hometown Garden will become a part of the fabric of this good town and that we will all work together to take care of our own,� said Ray.

Ray and Burkindine are steadfast in their commitment to provide fresh produce to area families in need. From this commitment has grown the sisters� mission statement for the garden - �Feeding Our Neighbors One Family at a Time.�

Janet Shrewsbury, executive director for Mission Carthage, said the organization serves families in Panola, Shelby, Rusk and Harrison counties.

She told the audience that the mission provides fresh produce for 300 families of four each month. Children are a large percentage of individuals receiving food from the mission.

�Twelve hundred folks are fed fresh produce each month. Many of those are children,� Shrewsbury said.

Along with community members, individuals from numerous agencies and partners instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition attended the ceremony. Some of these included the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Resource Conservation and Development, Texas AgriLife Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District, the City of Carthage, Master Gardeners, Watson Organics and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert�s office and the Texas Department of Agriculture also attended.

Texas NRCS employees have worked closely with Ray and Burkindine in the creation of the garden.
 
�This is so much more than just a piece of ground with plants on it,� said Don Gohmert, state conservationist for NRCS in Texas, who traveled from Temple to speak.

Gohmert said it is a place for community involvement, a place to share knowledge, while also providing an opportunity for people to begin to know their local farmer and know where their food comes from.

�The secretary felt it was important that people know their farmer and know their food,� he said.

What began as barren land, now has a decorative wooden fence around its borders. The garden has brought together the community. Volunteers have planted vegetable seeds and plants in the expansive area. Ornamentals have been planted and bird and butterfly houses have been strategically located on the border fence. Bee hives and water harvesting practices are also part of the garden�s future plans.

�It�s a super garden, none like in the U.S. and I can say none in the state of Texas,� said Gohmert.

The idea of creating a garden grew from a television newscast. Ray was ironing clothes and watching the news when she heard First Lady Michelle Obama speak of the People�s Garden initiative. Ray knew immediately that this was how the sisters could honor their parents.

Ray set down her iron and called the USDA in Washington, D.C., asking how she could establish a People�s Garden. This call led her to Matt Feno, district conservationist for NRCS in Carthage.

The Carthage garden has gained national attention as the dream has become a reality. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack highlighted the sisters� efforts in a video message and Ray and Feno were invited to speak at the first ever People�s Garden Summit in D.C.

�It was an honor to travel to Washington, D.C. and share this local garden story, while learning more about the national initiative and taking part in a forum where I could network with others,� Feno said.

For more information on the People�s Garden initiative visit www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.

ill Burkindine of Manhattan, Kan., and Jane Ray of Carthage, Texas, sisters, own the land where the more than one acre Hometown Garden is located at the USDA Service Center in Carthage. This is a unique garden. It�s a U.S. Department of Agriculture People�s Garden national initiative site. It also is the only privately owned initiative garden in the world.

Livia Marqu�s, director of the USDA People�s Garden Initiative, traveled from Washington, D.C., to speak at the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the People�s Garden in Carthage, Texas.

Jill Burkindine of Manhattan, Kan., and Jane Ray of Carthage, Texas, sisters, own the land where the more than one acre Hometown Garden is located at the USDA Service Center in Carthage. This is a unique garden. It�s a U.S. Department of Agriculture People�s Garden national initiative site. It also is the only privately owned initiative garden in the world.

Livia Marqu�s, director of the USDA People�s Garden Initiative, traveled from Washington, D.C., to speak at the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the People�s Garden in Carthage, Texas.

Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas, has put his full support behind the People�s Garden national initiative. He spoke to the crowd of upwards of 100 people who braved the inclement weather to be a part of Carthage, Texas, history during the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the People�s Garden. Jane Ray, right, is interviewed by ABC news affiliate KTBS before the groundbreaking ceremony began. The event was covered by ABC and CBS television affiliates, along with local AM radio station KGAS.

Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas, has put his full support behind the People�s Garden national initiative. He spoke to the crowd of upwards of 100 people who braved the inclement weather to be a part of Carthage, Texas, history during the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the People�s Garden.

Jane Ray, right, is interviewed by ABC news affiliate KTBS before the groundbreaking ceremony began. The event was covered by ABC and CBS television affiliates, along with local AM radio station KGAS.

Along with community members, individuals from numerous agencies and partners instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Some of these included the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Resource Conservation and Development, Texas AgriLife Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District, the City of Carthage, Master Gardeners, Watson Organics and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert�s office and the Texas Department of Agriculture also attended. Matt Feno, left, NRCS district conservationist in Carthage, Texas, Livia Marqu�s, director of the USDA People�s Garden Initiative and Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas, took advantage of a break in the rain showers.

Along with community members, individuals from numerous agencies and partners instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Some of these included the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Resource Conservation and Development, Texas AgriLife Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District, the City of Carthage, Master Gardeners, Watson Organics and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert�s office and the Texas Department of Agriculture also attended.

Matt Feno, left, NRCS district conservationist in Carthage, Texas, Livia Marqu�s, director of the USDA People�s Garden Initiative and Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas, took advantage of a break in the rain showers.