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Planting a Future at CRRC

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Between 20 to 30 volunteers are expected to report for duty at Community Garden Work Day, scheduled 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 17 at CRRC’s recreation center, 125 Mabel Jones Rd., Canyon Lake.

They’ll help plant a garden that last year yielded 800 pounds of produce for CRRC of Canyon Lake, which used it to feed families who rely on its food pantry for help.

On the to-do list tomorrow is preparing soil and planting (but anyone can just watch) this year’s crop. In two to three months, the garden will begin yielding cucumbers, squash, peppers and tomatoes.

A hot dog lunch for volunteers follows at noon. Attendees also can enjoy an interactive gardening seminar afterward, hosted by Comal Master Gardener Lee Franzell.

But how the garden grows the rest of the year — even with the continued help of dedicated volunteers — depends solely on the efforts of a retired New Braunfels landscaper.

And he needs help.

Joe Ed Lyles
Joe Ed Lyles

Joe Ed Lyles moved to Canyon Lake several years ago. A member of Canyon Lakes’s Noon Lions Club, he noticed the 1/4-acre garden at the CRRC’s Recreation Center.

He assumed responsibility for the untilled land in December 2016. In January 2017, plans for the garden crystallized into an action plan.

“When I took over the garden in January, it was weedy as all get out,” he told MyCanyonLake.com in an interview last summer. “I had to dig 51 holes and dement them in for pots that hold shade cloth up. That took a lot of time.”

Maureen Schein, CRRC’s resource program director, says fresh fruits and vegetables are among the most expensive items on anyone’s grocery list. The CRRC feeds 500 to 600 people a month.

Although the garden’s abundance made a dent in CRRC’s budget, it didn’t grow a second-in-command for Lyles, concerned about planting a future.

“I just want this thing to continue with or without me,” he says. “I need a couple of people that I can depend on who will be there, and know what needs to be done.”

People who’ve worked with Lyles say it’s a lot of fun, not physically demanding and just plain friendly.

Lyles doesn’t mind entertaining those who sit in the shade and visit. He makes sure nobody gets scorched in the hot Texas sun, either.

“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.”

There’s plenty of land to expand the garden but not enough volunteers to help CRRC feed more hungry mouths.

“The main thing is to bear in mind that we do this for the food pantry,” Lyles says. “People need this food. That’s why we do it. Tomorrow, people can come out and help the community, and that’s what it’s all about.”

By the way, Lyles was a landscaper before he ever gardened. He’s self-taught.

All he needs now is to plant a seed in the mind of someone in the community he can teach to keep Canyon Lake’s community garden bountiful for years to come.

 

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