July 16, 2019 | By: Katie Pratt
Glasgow, Ky.

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A community garden in a south central Kentucky town provides access to fresh produce for low-income residents.

The G-town Soul Swales garden in Glasgow is a project of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, whose agents help plant, harvest and maintain the garden with a wide assortment of community volunteers. LaToya Drake, Barren County family and consumer sciences extension agent, actually began working on the garden four years ago through a local group called the Greentoppers before becoming an extension agent.

“I’m really excited to be the FCS agent, so I can show people how to use fresh produce, because we are starving with food in both hands,” Drake said. “There are farms all around us. There is an abundance of fresh produce in our community, and people just don’t know how to use it.”

After she joined extension, Drake partnered with Andrea Stith, Barren County horticulture agent, and Josh Johnson, Barren County farmers market manager and fellow Greentoppers member to continue her work on the garden. They shared a passion for giving back to their community and educating young people about where their food comes from.

“I hate when I ask them where their food comes from, and they say the refrigerator or the grocery store,” Stith said. “I always try to make that connection back to our farmers. When you get kids out here, and they are actually growing something, then they feel a little more pride and may even try something that they have never tried before.”

 The half-acre garden, which is located at the Ralph Bunche Community Center, was built using a permaculture swale system because, with no nearby water source, the system allows rainwater to permeate the ground where it’s needed. The garden includes a variety of produce and herbs including blueberries, asparagus, blackberries, raspberries, lemon balm and oregano.

The garden is available to anyone in the community. As the produce ripens, Drake alerts the local housing authority so they can contact their clients. They also share produce with the soup kitchen that operates four days a week in the Bunche Center.

Grace Lowe, 17, and her brother Paul Lowe, 11, have been faithful volunteers in the garden for the past year, with Grace working in the garden each week. Both became involved with the garden through the local Leos club, with Grace even organizing a fundraiser through the club to purchase a mower for the garden.

“Glasgow has a large population of people who are food insecure, and this is a good way for them to get food super cheap,” Grace Lowe said.

“It’s fun to help people in need,” Paul Lowe added.

UK Cooperative Extension Service is part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, which is dedicated to improving people's lives through excellence in education, research and outreach.

Contact: 

LaToya Drake and Andrea Stith, 270-651-3818