Five homeschoolers pick fist-size garlic cloves, green jalapeños, strawberries, squash and kale on a breezy Thursday morning in late June. They’re volunteering at a local food garden where bright orange marigolds attract bees from a local keeper’s hive. The 1-acre garden has yielded about 10,000 pounds of produce for six food pantries since it began harvesting in April 2022. Texan by Nature, which manages the garden and was founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, estimates it has served approximately 2,000 people per month in Limestone, Freestone and Leon counties. Located in Freestone County about 60 miles east of Waco, NRG Dewey Prairie Garden is a part of a massive effort to restore a 35,000-acre lignite coal mine.
Alaska is cold. With temperatures below freezing from October to April, it has some of the longest winters in the country. And the terrain can be challenging: rocky islands with scant soil. Tundra — soggy on top and frozen a foot down. On the other hand, summer days are long. In the land of the midnight sun, the sun doesn’t set for weeks, making gardening in Alaska a unique experience. With greenhouses to get an early start and raised beds to warm the soil, Alaskans are able to plant flourishing gardens and raise record-breaking vegetables despite the obstacles. At the start of the growing season in May, the Alaska Native Media Group launched the Garden and Gather initiative, to encourage Alaska Natives to practice local gardening, and to empower them to share their planting stories.