Sai Garden in every home and every heart: Dallas, TX
The venture into gardening for members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Dallas, TX, began in 2013 with the adoption of two raised bed plots of four feet by sixteen feet in a community garden at a church. With encouragement, mentoring and guidance from Church members, volunteers persevered and the plots eventually started to yield vegetables. All the produce is harvested weekly and donated to the local food pantries so that clients can enjoy healthy nutritious food choices. More than 1,250 pounds of fresh produce has been donated to local area food banks and other charitable organizations that help those in need. The fresh produce include cucumbers, bell peppers, peppers, Swiss chard, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, okra, broccoli, beets and radishes.
Since then, the project has expanded to include building raised bed gardens and keyhole gardens in the homes of Sai Center members. Sai volunteers who are experienced gardeners provide interested home owners with a list of materials needed to build the raised beds. On the day of the installation, Sai volunteers arrive at the assigned home and build a raised bed frame with the help of the family members and fill it with soil. Each of the Sai Gardens is named with a “human value” or “sub-value” chosen by the family.
Besides using the produce for their own needs, Sai Center members also donate the surplus to local food pantries and share it with other friends. Since the installation of Sai Gardens in twenty one homes, several Sai gardeners have added more raised beds in their homes. The staff at the food pantries are delighted every time fresh produce is delivered.
Sai families have found growing vegetables in their home gardens an especially gratifying activity to carry out with their family members. One Sai Center member reflected, "First of all, my family was really impressed by the meticulous way the team installed the garden in my house in a very short time. This project has given us an opportunity to work as a family and do something outdoors in this gadget-driven era. And it also makes the children understand the time and effort it takes to grow vegetables and how to take care of living things. It also reinforces an appreciation and the importance of Sattvic (pure) food.”
Gardening has been a life-changing experience for the participants. It has given them a sense of higher purpose when the produce is donated to the local food pantry. Moreover, eating the fresh organic produce also promotes a sense of well-being and good health.