About 60 volunteers representing local organizations came together on April 27th on what used to be a vacant field behind the Food Care Center in downtown Killeen. 

Now, visitors to the location will find 16 cement, 4-foot by eight-foot plots lined neatly together, eight with plants sprouting through the soil in a community garden.

The remaining eight plots will be prepared at a future date for planting, and future ideas to utilize the rest of the community garden’s space include learning-focused areas, additional beddings, and fruit trees.

The community garden was formed out of a $25,000 grant from the Killeen Heights Rotary Club.

“All the materials, all the supplies, everything that was used to build was either donated or money came from the $25,000 we were able to use for the grant project,” said Rotary member Barb Merlo. “This gave us an opportunity to do a lot of community good. It involves educating youth, it involves maternal and child health, it involves the environment — we have a rain recapture system — and then it involves food and hunger.”

Community organizations adopted plots and will care for the plants throughout the season.

An array of different vegetables like Japanese eggplant, peppers, squash, and kohlrabi were planted. All harvested food from the community garden will be accepted by the Food Care Center to aid in its local food supply efforts. The community garden will also be made available for learning about gardening and gardening-produced food.

Eight different youth groups will be participating in the care of the garden to include a large group of Killeen High School special needs students.

“It’s also a learning base for children who have autism. It allows them to develop social skills,” said Killeen Heights Rotary Club President-elect Bill Webster about the community garden.

Webster also described the garden as a place for anyone looking to give back to the community and as a place that follows through with the mission to eradicate hunger.

“I said, wouldn’t that be great idea if we could do something like that here and get many people of walks and areas of the community involved?” said Webster, who then took the expanded idea to the Rotary board for consideration.

Garden sponsors include A Classic Roofing, LLC; District 54 state Rep. Brad Buckley; Goosehead Insurance; The Isbell Agency; Central Texas College; Wealth Wave; Perry Office Plus; Heights Lumber Supply; Killeen ISD; Operation Phantom Support; National United Bank; Allstate; and First National Bank. The garden is also dedicated in memory of Rotarian Stan Passman.

Event goers were given guidance from master gardeners on how to improvise under limited space, test soil, conserve water, face seasonal limitations, identify plant diseases, use equipment, as well as were given tips and techniques on how to maximize plant growth and vegetable output.