Being in the Garland Community Garden today as we were getting ready for the launch of our first hosted Citizen Science project tomorrow*, reminded me of all the diversity amongst us Texans. In general we are a scrappy good-hearted bunch of folks who may not always agree in opinion, but who still firmly believe that others have the right to say what they think—even if we may not like it (and may even punch their lights out over it).
I realized today there are many things about our rich history that newcomers to Texas may not realize. Heck for that matter, there are a lot of things about our rich Texas history that a lot of native Texans are not even aware of.
I am not one of them, however. I grew up in a small town in west Texas near Abilene—product of a German/French alliance. From my German side we had Great Cousin Johanna Engelking—a history professor at Rice University and first cousin to my grandfather. She came out every summer to spend a month with us—although I don’t know why. West Texas in July is not for the faint of heart—but then no one would count Cousin Hannah among the feint of heart so that may explain her visits.
Muhammad Abdusamad and his son visited the Garland Community Garden today.
I thought about Cousin Johanna today when Jane Stroud, president of Loving Garland Green, was showing Muhammad Abdusamad and his son around the Garland Community Garden. We are looking forward to their participation in the Garland Community Garden.
Muhammad wants to make sure that his young son knows where food comes from. He expressed an interest in grapes and was surprised to learn that we can grow them here in North Texas. We have them growing down at the Garland Community Garden and I have them growing in my front yard. For the past three years two vines have faithfully yielded between 65 and 80 pounds of grapes. (If you’ve priced them in the grocery store, you know that is about $160 worth of grapes each year.)
I smiled as Jane told him the story of how folks in Denison Texas saved the French wine industry in the late 1800’s. I wondered if Jane also had a Great Cousin Johanna.
There is a Taste of Texas in Every Glass of French Wine
(and don’t you forget it or some true Texan will remind you!)
In 1880, the vineyards of France were on the verge of destruction du to the phylloxera root louse. This grapevine plague spread throughout France, and in the Charante Region (Cognac) in particular. With their economy at risk, France selected French scientist Pierre Viala to find a cure for the plague. Viala's search led him to Denison, Texas and scientist Thomas Volney Munson.
Viala and Munson studied the native grapes of Texas. The soils of the Charante and Denison are very similar, and Munson knew the Texas rootstocks were resistant to phylloxera, Munson suggested that the only way to save the French vineyards was to graft the Texas rootstocks with the French vines. Viala agreed and thousands of bundles of Texas rootstocks were shipped to France to be grafted with the French vineyards. The grafting continues to this day.
France awarded Munson the Chevalier du Merite Agricule, the highest award that is given to a foreign civilian. In 1888, Munson was inducted into the Legion of Honor and, to commemorate the award, a Centennial Celebration was held in Cognac and Denison 100 years later.
TOMORROW—SUNDAY MARCH 26 is a Big Day for Loving Garland Green and the North Garland High School Environmental Club
In partnership with the North Garland High School Environmental Club, Loving Garland Green is launching our first Citizen Scientist Project—a 100 Square Foot Garden. Over the next 8 months members of both organizations will be stewarding a 100 square foot garden to learn just how much food can be grown in a 100 square foot urban garden in Garland, Texas.
Planting of 40 square feet of this garden will take place tomorrow, Sunday March 26 from 2 to 4 PM. We hope to see you there! Free bean seeds and poles will be given away while they last.
A busy end of the month Garden Sweep at the Garland Community Garden: Members work hard to make the garden lovely
Even Officers of the Board are not excused from the end of the month cleanup. Here on the left we have Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green and on the right we have Anita Opel Treasurer Loving Garland Green.