KILLEEN — Phantom Warriors, like Capt. Kandice Reyes, chief of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s environmental health, are helping to support Warriors at Texas A&M University - Central Texas with a terrace garden initiative to support the university’s food bank, the Campus Cupboard.
“On a daily basis, we are experts and professionals in our field and we proactively promote and protect the environment,” Reyes said. “Together with the community, we are the critical links between health and the environment.”
The garden, which is located on the terrace of Warrior Hall, is not only a community service hub for connecting warriors, but has a goal of becoming a supplier of produce for students, staff and faculty who are struggling with hunger.
“The Campus Cupboard only accepts non-perishable items, and it’s great to have access to canned vegetables in the winter, when nothing is growing,” Tara Nawrocki, a senior biology student and chair of the terrace garden, said. “But we wanted to provide a sustainable source of nutrition during spring, summer and fall planting seasons for our campus community.”
The garden will also be used for outdoor education to help provide hands-on opportunities for students of all ages including future teachers at the university.
“It is one thing to teach it from a book but another to learn outside with dirt on your hands,” Nawrocki said. “The terrace garden will help with humanitarian efforts, mental health, teaching youth about how plants grow and educating our science and education majors.”
With the support of the university’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, Gaylene Nunn, the terrace garden committee was established and is made up of 15 students and six staff members.
To kick off the initiative, community partners such as Lowe’s in Temple, a distributor from Bonnie Bell, and staff donated supplies that included tools, storage space, herbs and plants. The Clear Creek Exchange coordinated with its vendors to donate 35 cubic feet of garden soil.
“Nothing has been planted in the garden bed, which means the soil may be deprived of nutrients,” Nawrocki said. “The new soil layers will help the garden grow.”
Warriors worked together to weed the site, spread the new garden soil and planted tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Helping to not only grow plants, Brad Burden, a junior biology student, is also growing relationships with Fort Hood.
“It’s a great opportunity for the campus, the Texas A&M Central Texas Warriors, to connect with the warriors of Fort Hood,” Burden said. “We know that Soldiers, like Capt. Reyes, coming out to help us with the terrace garden is a great way to show that our neighbor, Fort Hood, has our back and we have their back – warriors for warriors.”
For more information about the terrace garden, call the university’s Student and Civic Engagement office at 519-5496.