Local residents can enjoy free, fresh summer produce when Tarleton State University and the city of Stephenville host a pick-your-own green beans day at the recently established community garden near Clark Field Municipal Airport.

The first green-bean harvest begins at 9 a.m. and will end at noon (or sooner if supplies run out) on Saturday, June 24, now that the legumes have ripened since their planting last month, says Dr. Don Cawthon, Tarleton professor and resident director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Stephenville.

Stephenville residents are invited to attend the bean-picking event located on city property near the airport, but should bring their own bag or container. Unfortunately, sufficient quantities for canning or freezing won’t be available.

Look for a large “Green Thumbs Project” sign on Airport Road— on the left, just before the first hangar—to reach the one-acre garden. Someone will be at the garden to answer questions and provide guidance.

The community garden—one of five recently established in the city of Stephenville—is the result of a $294,084 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to Tarleton’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences in 2016.

The city of Stephenville, a partner in the Green Thumbs Community Gardens project, has graciously donated the use of a plot of land on Airport Road for use as a community garden, Cawthon said. 

“The 2017 goal for this specific garden is to help increase awareness of local food production options by allowing residents to harvest produce as it becomes available,” Cawthon explained. “Plans are being developed for 2018 and beyond to make portions of this land available to Stephenville residents who want to grow a vegetable garden but do not have access to a suitable location of their own.”

In addition to awareness and education, the grant-funded community gardening initiative calls attention to the importance of reducing food waste, introduces students and local communities to the benefits of life-long gardening through on-campus and community vegetable and fruit plots, and recruits undergraduate and graduate students into food-related careers.

“University campuses—especially those with agricultural colleges—have a vital role to play in mitigating food shortages and dietary imbalances caused by the world’s rapidly rising population,” Cawthon said.