“Community” is the root of everything in Castle Hills. Neighbors get together almost every weekend in the plaza for live music and outdoor movie nights; kids use the community trail system to walk or bike to school; families and friends gather at the neighborhood sports fields, fishing lake and numerous parks. It only makes sense, then, that the budding idea of a community garden would flourish quickly here.
This past March, several Castle Hills families – from first-time to veteran gardeners – began planting vegetables, fruits and herbs in the newly plotted Castle Hills Community Garden. Currently, the space is blossoming with an abundance of organically grown lettuce, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, squash, spinach, an assortment of herbs and more.
“The mission of the garden is to ‘provide an opportunity for dedicated volunteers to learn and teach others about sustainable gardening techniques, to grow nutritious food using organic methods, to donate a portion of the harvest to those in need, and to have fun learning, teaching, sharing and growing,’” said gardener and Castle Hills resident Stephanie Cnare. “We will be using only organic gardening techniques in the garden and will donate a minimum of 25 percent of our harvest to local food pantries.”
Currently 28 families participate in the community garden, which has 16 plots that can be divided into half plots, giving up to 32 residents an opportunity to garden on either full or half plots. The space is currently divided into four 4’x16’ full plots and 24 4’x8’ half plots. Bright Realty developer Chris Bright donated the land for the garden, had the plots built and irrigation installed. Fencing was also donated and surrounds the entire garden area.
“At the onset of the project, residents applied for a space in the garden. No experience was necessary in order to participate and all skill levels are represented,” said Cnare. “Many gardeners are using this as a teaching opportunity for their children and even grandchildren. Several of our committee members are master gardeners and plan to offer workshops to teach the many aspects of gardening. Our first session was held to teach about various composting methods as a way to recycle garden waste and improve soil nutrients.”
“The developer lends some oversight to the project,” said Retta Rosi, who is the Bright Realty liaison for the gardeners, “but a group of residents took the project and ran with it. They set the guidelines, rules and methods for the garden because they would be the ones working the plots. The project has been successful because of their commitment.”
The gardeners all agree to follow the rules set by the group for the garden, for example, using only an approved list of plants and gardening products and abiding by specific water restrictions. The group maintains a Facebook page, which is open to Castle Hills residents only. They share gardening tips, on everything from how to safely control fire ants to when to harvest specific vegetables, and sharing photos of weekly food pantry donations.
“Our motto is ‘Learn, Grow, Donate, Have Fun,’” said Cnare. “So far, we are accomplishing all of that. And with all of the community interest our garden is receiving, we hope to expand over time.”
Castle Hills is a 2,600 acre master-planned community with new single-family homes, detached luxury villas, and estate homes from the mid-$300s to $3 million and up. Located west of the Dallas North Tollway and Park Blvd. with easy access to Hwy. 121, Castle Hills residents enjoy shopping, parks, lakes, schools, swimming pools, hike-and-bike trails, tennis and basketball courts and multiple community centers. The Castle Hills Village Shops and Plaza is the neighborhood gathering place for dining, shopping and monthly community events.