Need to cut grocery costs? Try community gardening - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Need to cut grocery costs? Try community gardening.


Due to the drought a couple of  years ago, the costs of some groceries are rising, according the Texas Farm Bureau Price Watch.

From lettuce to tomatoes, East Texas families are feeling the pain in the produce aisle. An East Texas organization has started community gardens to help out.

Lisa Horlander and her son Asher frequently stop by the community garden, located in front of the McClendon House in Tyler, to tend their plot.

"I've been looking into different kinds of foods for my family that are healthier, and I've learned about having your own garden and that it's really important to be able to control what you put in your garden. Important to have your own garden so that you have access directly to your food," Horlander said.

They are part of the East Texas Community Food Coalition, a group with three community gardens in Tyler.

"The coalition has a goal of providing fresh local food to everyone who wants it.  We'd just like to see everyone have access to good local food. And community gardens are a great local way to do that," community relations coordinator Jennifer Mallios said.

The coalition has about 100 members and 25 active volunteers to work in their three community gardens, trying to give people fresh foods the affordable way.

"People are looking for a way. They still want to have fresh food but we can't spend all that money. So we can do it ourselves. I don't have to have it shipped in, I can do it myself or go to the local farmers market," Mallios said

And it's that "do it yourself" attitude that has saved Lisa a pretty penny on her groceries.

"We probably spend less than $300 a month on groceries now because we've figured out how to not just use box meals, but take from our yard, farmers markets, and other co-ops we're in," she said.

And Lisa's family seems to enjoy it much more.

"Surprisingly, they enjoy it just as much, if not more than, the macaroni and pizza," Horlander said.

"I grow strawberries at my house and they are much tastier and squishy. They're better than the store bought ones. I just like 'em. It tastes good," Asher Horlander said. 

For this family, community gardening yields fresh food, grocery savings, and fun.

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