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Help CRRC Grow Its Garden

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A retired New Braunfels landscaper now living in Startzville is growing 540 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed families served by non-profit Community Resource and Recreation Center Canyon Lake (CRRC).

Joe Ed Lyles
Joe Ed Lyles

Joe Ed Lyles’ working a ¼-acre plot just west of CRRC’s recreation, 125 Mabel Jones Dr.

‘It’s beautiful fresh produce,” says Maureen Schein, CRRC’s resource program director. “Joe Ed and his team do a wonderful job of bringing it in when it’s ready so we don’t get huge zucchini or too-small cucumbers. It’s all perfect.”

She says fresh fruits and vegetables are among the most-expensive items on anyone’s grocery list. CRRC feeds 500 to 600 individuals a month.

Planting a Team

What CRRC hopes to plant now — under Lyles’ direction — is a sustainable team of volunteers that can grow produce for area needy for years to come.

Gardening’s a year-round activity in Canyon Lake and it takes lots of to plant and tend rows of onions, beets, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra and tomatoes.

“When I took over the garden in January, it was weedy as all get out,” Lyles says of CRRC’s garden area, which became overgrown after another volunteer moved away.

“Everybody thinks the planting season is just spring, but fall is a great time for gardening also,” he says. “I’m looking to increase production in the fall, to beat the record of 540 pounds. We grow lots of spinach in the winter.”

A member of Canyon Lake Noon Lions Club, Lyles said he’s had help from other Lions, who helped build beds, and received donated shade cloth from Canyon Lake’s wildflower club.

“I had to dig 51 holes and cement them in for pots that hold shade cloth up,” Lyles says. “That took a lot of time. In the summertime I get there early. Right around sun up or shortly after and then I leave by 9:30. I don’t stay in that sun, and I don’t let people work after 10 a.m. A lot of people want to help, but they don’t want to do it in the summer and I can understand that. They’re not all up with the chickens like I am.”

The garden must be closely tended daily and produce picked when it’s at its peak. Soil needs to be added to beds. Irrigation needs to be double-checked. The actual harvesting, he says, isn’t that difficult.

Oaks resident Barrett Hansen, who learned of CRRC’s garden through a post on NextDoor.com, says she volunteered initially because she wanted to learn how to grow one of her own — “and now I have a good garden!”

She says Lyles is an excellent teacher who takes both novices and experts and turns them into green thumbs.

“It’s not very physically demanding, and you can work as little or as much as you want. You can even come, sit down and talk. The atmosphere’s extremely laid back and you can work once a week or jut once a month. Nobody’s under any obligation at all.”

Planting Wildflowers

Lyles’ also planting several acres of wildflowers in an adjacent field, and needs volunteers to walk the fields and press seeds down.

“I hope to create something there so we see flowers next spring.”

Help with Beehive

CRRC also needs someone to help with a beehive in order to apply for a bee conservancy grant.

Interested beekeepers/gardeners can email Lyles at jeldado@gmail.com.

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