What’s more fun for Cub Scouts than an Easter egg hunt?  Unearthing sweet potatoes in the Garland Community Garden November 2, 2017

Cub Scouts in the Garden November 2

Sweet Potato Lessons

Children are the biggest fans of gardens.  Perhaps children love growing things so much because they too are growing. Few things rival the enthusiasm of a child in the garden.  We closed out October with our Children’s Harvest Festival and we began the month of November with more children in the Garland Community Garden.

On Thursday, November 2, we entertained a local pack of Cub Scouts after school in the garden.  These young boys had the opportunity to harvest sweet potatoes and they were very enthusiastic about the process.  They assisted in overturning two large containers of sweet potatoes and dug through them finding the potatoes in soil.  In addition to harvesting the potatoes, the cubs were taught how to care for their potatoes after bringing them home.


A dad gets into the act showing the Cub Scouts how to grind teosinte by hand.  The Cubs learn that thousands of years ago, it was not that easy to prepare food. November 1 – Garland Community Garden

Teosinte Lessons

Following the sweet potato harvest, the scouts learned all about teosinte, the ancient mother of corn. We have a patch of it growing in the garden.  The history of modern-day corn began with teosinte at the dawn of human agriculture, about 10,000 years ago.

Teosinte doesn't look much like modern day corn, especially when you compare its kernels to those of corn.  The teosinte “cobs” are tiny with only six to 12 kernels. The cob itself is only about three inches long. However, at the DNA level, the two are surprisingly alike. They have the same number of chromosomes and a remarkably similar arrangement of genes.  The cub scouts enjoyed the opportunity to grind some teosinte kernels—in the same way that the ancients did and experienced first-hand all the work the ancients had to do in order to prepare their food.

The scouts were served organic popcorn and organic blue corn chips along with bottled water.  Our local Garland Noon Exchange Club provided the refreshments as well as the sacks and handout materials.  We are so grateful for their support of the children of Garland.


Brothers in the Garden November 2

After the Cub Scouts left and dusk was approaching, a father and his two sons stopped by the garden.  I was still loading up the truck with the materials I had used for the Cub Scout event.  These two brothers (ages 6 and 4), as often is the case with children, had hounded their father to stop at the garden they drove by.

As it would happen, we had a lot of green beans that needed to be harvested.  I gave each of the boys a sack and showed them how to pick beans. Each bean they found elicited additional squeals of delight from them.  Between the two of them they picked enough for dinner for their family of four.  It was their first experience at bean picking/grocery shopping at the garden.


Hayden in the Garden in November 7

It was already dark when Charlie and I drove past the Garden—6:30 or 7:00 pm.  We noticed a truck with its bright lights turned on the garden.  In the light we could see a man and a little girl down there so we stopped to see what was happening.  The man told me that he was driving past with the daughter who wanted to stop.  Hayden ( about 8 or 9 years of age) has been down at the garden many times.  Her dad said it was dark and no.  Then Hayden began to tear up.  Dads are usually suckers for their daughter’s tears so they stopped, even though it was dark.  The father explained to me why they were there and then introduced himself as Randan.  Turns out that Randan is a singer and guitarist that I had written about in one of my blogs about MarketPlace here in Garland.  I showed Randan and Hayden about the garden with the assistance of my phone flashlight and found some sun gold tomatoes for her to pick. 

Special moments in the garden like these are priceless, but they are all a part of why I too love the garden so much—it’s a great place for great experiences.


Photo from November 2016 Leaf Awareness Campaign – Last year We collected 713 bags at an estimated total of 21,290 pounds.  This may sound like a lot, but unfortunately 713 bags of leaves is tiny when measured against the bags of leaves that are likely taken each year from the homes of Garland residents to the Hinton landfill.  Given our approximate 80,000 households and estimating low at five leaf bags per household, we send close to a half million bags of leaves to the landfill each year.  Essentially what we are doing is removing potential soil from our community and sequestering it in a landfill where it cannot be used for many lifetimes—if ever.  It’s not a smart thing to be doing.


A lot of people in Garland still mistakenly think the bags of leaves they put curbside are picked up by Garland Environmental Services and mulched.  We know because we’ve asked a lot of people.  Bags of leaves left curbside in Garland are taken to the Hinton landfill where they are added to the landfill mass.  This is not the best choice.

The tree limbs and shrub trimmings left unwrapped on the curb in Garland are picked up and mulched and made available to the citizens.  Perhaps this is where the confusion comes in.  People just assume because the City picks up the tree branches and mulches them that they do the same with the bags of leaves.  They do not.

We love Garland.  We also believe that people need to know the truth in order to make the best decisions—for themselves and for their community.  In regard to leaves, the most environmentally responsible decision is to recycle the leaves where they fall—either by simply leaving them alone, or by composting them and then using the compost to enrich the soil in the yard by replacing the nutrients and minerals that were used to make the leaves.  We are losing soil in our urban areas at an alarming rate. 

It is a serious ecological mistake for our city to carry an estimated 12,000 tons of leaves to the Hinton landfill each year.  Ideally leaves should remain very close to the place where they fall.  Decaying leaves are nature’s way of building new soil and replacing nutrients taken from the existing soil to grow those leaves.

This can be achieved simply through a public awareness campaign to:

1) Educate people that the leaves they put curbside go to the landfill. (Many of our residents mistakenly believe these leaves are recycled by Environmental Waste Services.)

2) Educate people regarding the better choices they have available to them.

When you have your leaves hauled off—whether it is to a landfill or to a recycle center such as they have in Plano Texas with their Texas Pure Products—you will still at some point in time need to replace nutrients and soil by purchasing it.  You will also deepen your ecological footprint by driving to the recycling center to pick up the soil (thus burning fuel for the trip and adding strain to the infrastructure and pollution to the air).

We are literally shipping the future soil out of our yards and to a landfill where no one can use it.


Although we recommend you mulch the leaves and use them in your own yard, we prefer that you don’t leave them curbside for the landfill.   You can bring them to the garden and leave them beside the green fenced compost area.

We will pick up a few leaves as we have time and drive by homes but Loving Garland Green does not offer a leaf pickup service—although this would be a great idea for someone who had the acreage and wanted to go into the garden soil and compost business.