In 2001, a chance encounter with David Weaver, the CEO of the South Plains Food Bank, led me to dedicate ten years of my life to the food bank’s Farm, Orchard and GRUB programs. In 2011, I retired and moved to San Angelo, Texas. Fast forward to 2018, and I am back in Lubbock where another chance encounter brings me back to the F.O.G. Programs.
The farm is a 5.5-acre lot located on the corner of 76th Street and Avenue B. It was established in 1988 when the land was donated to the food bank to grow and provide fresh produce for those receiving assistance from the food bank. Since then, the vision has grown, and the farm now produces over 100,000 pounds of produce every year. It also houses the food bank’s youth project, GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business), a life and job skills guidance program for local teens.
Youth in the GRUB Program volunteer on Saturday mornings during the school year and are in turn, able to apply for a paid internship during the summer. This summer we will employ twenty teenagers from the Lubbock area. Salaries for these students are partially funded by CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Shares, which allow people in the community to enjoy a share of our harvest. Around one hundred shares are sold annually, but we are always looking to get our harvested fruits, veggies and herbs into more kitchens.
The GRUB teens are also presented with a comprehensive life and job skills curriculum. Mentors from different areas of expertise visit our students and teach them various skills to succeed in their education and careers. This year, we hope to return to the Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s for both an income producing venture and an educational experience.
I’ve always said that the farm is a magical place, and it truly is. We grow beautiful produce, but more importantly, we grow beautiful young adults. I hope you will come by and visit us this summer. We are always in need of volunteers, mentors, educators and donors.
Please feel free to contact me, Jenifer Smith, at FOGDirector@spfb.org or 325-213-3161 for more information.