By Kevin Barnett
About 35 volunteers gathered in the garden this Earth Day at the CoolxDad plot in Sunnyside.
This is the first spring season for the CoolxDad Garden, and we couldn’t be happier with the turn out so far. The plot is located in the Sunnyside Park Community Garden, part of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's Urban Garden Program.
Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon we’ve been digging our hands in the soil, sowing seeds and planning for a summer of growth.
On April 22, Earth Day, we had a special gardening session, thanks to sponsors Cranky Carrot Juice Company, Miles of Grace Motorcycle Club, and Home Depot. We mowed and edged the entire garden, planted flowers for the pollinators, laid weed and feed down by the beds, used rainwater to nourish the beds, and utilized organic fish fertilizer.
Kids also painted labels for the garden and created reusable bags out of T-shirts.
"While I believe Earth Day is every day, it's cool to watch the world stop and pay a little extra attention to the place we all call home," said CoolxDad's Community Outreach Organizer Danielle Watkins. "It really did my heart joy to see the dads, their kiddos, and community members active in the garden and taking care of such a tiny piece of Earth."
We see this as an intentional act of service and togetherness – an opportunity for dads to spend time with their kids while doing something beneficial for the community.
Sunnyside is one of Houston’s largest food deserts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means its residents don’t have adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables – most live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store.
We aim to mobilize CoolxDads to respond to specific needs, modeling for their children the importance of engaging with communities in real-time. Not tomorrow, not next week, not when they grow up. Right now.
We're growing tomatoes, radishes, greens, peppers, and more. Once the vegetables are harvested, we plan to distribute them to the volunteers and to Sunnyside residents on Saturday mornings during our engagement events.
"All ingredients were intentionally selected so that you can build a health salad," said Watkins. "It's promising to see vegetables that will one day turn into food that can be served on the tables of those in the community. As a community, we did something that will continue to live on — from one Earth Day to the next."