Many hands make light work and a bountiful summer harvest at the community garden behind the Faulkner County Library on Tyler Street in Conway.
Behind the library is open acreage, where the nonprofit organization La Lucha works with volunteers to grow varieties of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and yellow squash, corn, cucumbers and asparagus. The garden also has sunflowers, and in the winter, pumpkins.
Composting bins and a small greenhouse are also on the plot.
While the locals learn how to cultivate the ground and best practices for growing their own food, local food pantries ultimately benefit from a supply of fresh produce.
Food pantries are typically recipients of boxed and highly processed foods and canned goods.
“We recognize sometimes local food is more expensive, and we want to make sure we can include all the community regardless of their economic position,” said Sandra Leyva, director of La Lucha and organizer of the Faulkner County Urban Farming Project with volunteer coordinators Sean Ott and Lacey Starkey. “This year one of our goals is to not only give out food but also to give plants and encourage people to come out and grow stuff with us.”
Leyva said blueberry bushes are the new additions to the garden this year.
With winter finally fading, Leyva says the group has enacted two community work days on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 3:30 p.m.
All are invited, and she said the project depends on gaining more volunteers.
“anyone who comes out and helps can take some (produce) home if they want, but most of it goes to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s food pantry,” said Leyva.
The group also uses the harvest to throw two yearly festivals, Backyard Gourmet on May 17, and the Urban Farm Festival in the fall.
Backyard Gourmet, Leyva describes, is a “celebration of growing, cooking and eating local food.”
This year’s theme is cornbread and greens.
The group expects to cook for 200 to 300 people who will be in attendance, and there are plans to educate on growing food and why it is important to support local farmers.
“Backyard Gourmet” is also a cookbook compiled by La Lucha’s Urban Farming Project, the Faulkner County Library and the Faulkner County Museum.
La Lucha strives to cultivate creativity and collaboration while promoting local producers and creatives.
They operate The Locals, a retail and co-working space in downtown Conway.
Leyva said for more information and to be part of work days, simply show up at the garden at the designated time Wednesdays and Sundays at 1900 Tyler Street or visit fcurbanfarmingproject.org.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net.)