A Community that Gardens together … Grows together

Classes on the ecosytem allow students to connect with nature

Diane Xavier | 7/25/2014, 9:04 p.m. | Updated on 7/28/2014, 1:49 p.m.
Nature offers man its most valuable resources – soil, water and air. Combined with proper care, they can transform into ...
Local youth participate in classes on nature and the ecosystem by planting and maintaining the McCarty & Maathai Community Garden. Allen Family

The Dallas Examiner

Nature offers man its most valuable resources – soil, water and air. Combined with proper care, they can transform into a bountiful field with enough fruit and vegetables to sustain a community. Maintaining such a field can provide an opportunity for the community to bond, as well as a chance for individuals to connect with Mother Nature.

On Saturdays, Cresanda Allen, founder of the McCarty & Maathai Community Garden, hosts gardening classes to teach the community about nature and how the ecosystem can solve many of earth’s problems. The classes are provided on a sliding scale fee so everyone can afford the organic foods.

“I want them to know that every animal on the planet has a purpose, and even when you dig up soil, worms have a purpose as well, and that is for planting. This is part of the ecosystem process because they add to the rich soil,” said Cresanda’s mother, Roesanda Allen, an educator for Lancaster ISD in the field of reading.

“I teach science and have loved science and loved animals since I was a child, ” she said.

Cresanda Allen has been working the project for four years and said this has been a dream for her for quite a while. The garden has become a family project, as well.

“My mother and family have own the land since the 1970’s and there was a house here which burned down in 1984. I thought it would be neat to create a community garden here so people here can have access to healthy, organic foods,” Cresanda Allen said.

On May 31, Cresanda Allen hosted a naming ceremony for the garden, located at 2331 Custer Drive, in honor of her grandmother, Erma McCarty, and her “shero” Wangari Maathai.

During the July 12 workshop, students and families in the neighborhood had a chance to explore nature with their hands by physically planting gardens during lessons and activities. The lessons included such things as: Simple Machines in the Garden; Compost: What’s In It?; Fertilize: Organic or Synthetic; Garden Insect Identification, Herbs for Healing; Texas Nature Plant Identification; ROYGBIV and Chakra Foods; Gardening by the Moon; and Water Wars.

One activity included a lesson on native plants.

“A native plant is any plant that is exclusive to this region where it can grow well and you do not have to put in a lot of amenities or water to it. It is low maintenance and can grow and prosper naturally,” she told the participants

The event also included a Back-to-School and Back-to-Nature Block Party.

“It’s about sand and different types of soil,” said Jenae Luster, a second grader at M.C. Lively Elementary School. “We get to learn about sand and how it helps us.”

Aniyah Allen, a pre-Kstudent, was another excited participant.

“We planted seeds and grew watermelons,” she said. “We had to wait a long time for it to grow and it will grow naturally.”

Anthony McKnight, a fourth grader who will enter fifth grade at Woodridge Elementary, shared his viewpoints on the ecosystem.

“If you are planting, you are actually helping the environment.”