GEORGE WEST, Texas — In what started as a partnership between the city, county and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, a sole woman has been maintaining a garden where the “fruits” of her labor are passed on to those who want them.
“I just took over,” said Pat Lancaster, a 67-year-old George West resident. “I love gardening. It’s peaceful.”
The garden sits next to a city park at the corner of West Avenue and Menchaca Street. Lancaster — who’s there practically everyday — said the effort is self-funded and that she also receives help from her daughter across the street.
“The city provides the water and the park and then I do the rest,” she said. “I’ve had a few donations but most of it like when I got my stimulus check, I went and spent it on the garden.”
Lancaster, who’s retired, adds that she also uses her social security to help maintain the area. Every Tuesday, she makes an effort to drop off various vegetables to members of the older George West community.
“It’s healthy for them,” Lancaster said. “And, there’s a need because of diabetes. I’m pre-diabetic, so therefore I know what I’m supposed to eat. And they don’t have access to a lot of it.”
And while providing those healthy options to the community, Lancaster said she also ends up giving some members of the area some much-needed attention.
“We deliver mostly to the widowed ladies in the area, or the elderly that can’t get out too much,” she said. “There’s a couple of ladies — their families don’t come very often — I try to visit with them a little bit, give them plants, because they like plants and stuff,” Lancaster said.
Within the hour, 80-year-old Pedro Saldiva pulled over. Coming to the garden with a cane-in-hand, he was able to stop for some radishes.
“There was times I used to come here and steal some of them,” Saldiva said with a laugh. “She’s a good woman.”
Genoveva Villanueva Ponce is a 79-year-old woman who leaves nearby the garden. Whether it's their beets, spinach or cabbage — she enjoys it all.
“I keep a lot of it. What I don’t use, I share it with my other friends,” Villanueva said. “That means a lot to me, yes. I’m very happy for that.”
Lancaster said there are times when those vegetables are just handed off to anyone.
"I share with the sheriffs department, I’ve shared with the city police, I share at Sonic, I share just everywhere," she said. "I don’t want it to go to waste — and my husband can only eat so many peppers."
Other than adding a few buckets for plants, Lancaster said she’s happy with the current setup and doesn’t have any plans for expansion.
To those who are interested in helping out, however, she invites the public to come out.