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The Coppell Community Gardens is one of Coppell’s most beautiful and unknown assets, up-kept by the few dozen of dedicated volunteers who wake each Saturday morning to prepare the fruits of their labor for pick-up by the Metrocrest Foodbank.
Harvesting, weighing and bagging the produce, tilling soil, mulching, turning compost and fertilizing and watering plots only names a fraction of what it takes to create over 1,642 pounds of edible produce in one winter month.
Coppell has two of these volunteer-run gardens, the Helping Hands garden beside Town Center and the Ground Delivery garden beside the Post Office. Both offer a serene environment for those who pass through as well as for those, young and old, experienced and new, who tend to their plots.
Founded in 1998, the Gardens have since grown to be an integral part of the community, providing a hobby, knowledge and service opportunity for students all community members and even volunteers from surrounding neighborhoods.
“We enjoy watching things grow,” garden leader Julia Daly said. “It’s a secret thrill watching things grow from a seed, and I really like the idea of being able to help someone else in a way that’s enjoyable to me, doing something productive, with my own hands versus giving money to a charity.”
Daly and her husband, Pat Daly, have been regulars at the Ground Delivery since 2003, when they were inspired to join after having seen they garden from their home. The Dalys are the prime example of a family who found personal benefits in this hobby while helping others.
“The gardens teach us to respect the environment and each other,” Julia said. “They provide nutritious options for those that may not have that opportunity due to their financial constraints. In Coppell, it’s a good way for our neighbors to get together and have more sense of community.”
Coppell High School students have also experienced the relaxing and philanthropic nature of the garden. Senior Anna Samczuk began volunteering after her brother suggested it as a way to get back in touch with herself and meet new people.
“I was always a shy person, and I needed a way to put myself outside of my comfort zone,” Samczuk said. “It provides relaxation for me and I’ve realized the importance of cultivating nature and helping others.”
Coppellians visit the Gardens for an escape from busy lives. The physical labor the plots require helps to relieve stresses and tensions, and the quiet atmosphere provides the ideal environment for meditation while tending to plants.
“It’s not a stressful place,” Samczuk said. Sometimes it seems like I’m not in Coppell, like it’s another bubble. Though getting dirt under your nails isn’t therapeutic, hard work there is mentally therapeutic. It’s just something good to be a part of.”
Other students at Coppell High School have found ways to volunteer at the Gardens through clubs such as Interact Club.
“As a community service project, we went during the summer months,” senior Interact treasurer Uzomaka Onyejiaka said. “We carried large amounts of compost and shoveled it into wheelbarrows – moving the soil was really hard, so it was a difficult job. But it was fun, and we knew it wasn’t a waste of time because we knew we were doing a good service.”
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax, get dirty or just get more involved with the community, Coppell’s Community Gardens will provide. For more information on the Gardens, visit coppellcommunitygarden.org.