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Following cold snap, area growers working to recover from damaged crops

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Feb 26, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If one's vegetation was left uncovered from last week's brutal winter storm, it's easy to tell.

"We just got kind of a rapid lesson in the life cycle of death and rebirth all within the span of like three days," said David Nuss, Executive Director of Grow Local South Texas, who manages First United Methodist Church’s "Garden of Grace," one of the few community gardens in Corpus Christi. "Before the freeze, every one of these plots was amazingly green."

For the most part, that color has since shifted to a noticeable dead shade of brown.

Nuss walked through the area, showing broccoli, eggplants and chards that didn't make it.

"It’s pretty much been leveled," he said, gesturing the garden. "Every tomato plant is just done."

Some plants that were well-covered or grew underground did survive. And although no one necessarily depended on the garden for sustenance, Nuss said it's more of a hit to the community's efforts.

"It’s not that the livelihood depends on that piece of broccoli, but it’s more just sad," he said.

Those sentiments were echoed by 74-year-old Jaime Bustos, a market grower over Terra Madre Mini Farm, a 2-acre space near Peewee's Pet Adoption.

Bustos, who's retired, grows crops specifically for the Grow Local Farmers' Market, was able save some of his crops by covering them with combinations of cardboard, sheets and hay. Still, he wasn't able to cover everything, including his more recently-planted carrots.

"The larger ones we were able to pull, take to the market — the little ones — we don’t know what’s going to happen," Bustos said. "I don’t know if they’re going to be able to grow, if they’ll reconstitute themselves, bounce back, because we don’t have that experience — so we don’t know."

Since he grows exclusively for markets, his crops grow in different phases. Although he knows he's taking a financial hit, he's planning to continue selling his vegetables.

"We’ll still bounce back, even after this," Bustos said. "And we’ll be able to have some of that offered to the public."

A board member of the Texas Farm Bureau said overall, most farming areas within the Coastal Bend were largely unaffected, though pastures did see a setback. Toward the valley, in contrast, citrus crops have been pummeled by the freeze, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

But back in the Corpus Christi area — to help assist small businesses affected by the freeze, the Grow Local Farmers Market will be selling T-shirts at their markets, which run every Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Art Center of Corpus Christi or online. All of the of the proceeds will go to farmers in need, Nuss said.

"They need seeds, they need transplants — they need equipment in order to get into the spring planting season," Nuss said.

Additionally, Grow Local is working to expand their community gardens. Nuss said he encourage anyone interested in helping create one in an unused space to contact them.