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St. Arbor Garden

Green Thumb Volunteers Provide 'Spirit Of Hope And Community'

St. Arbor Garden represents more than food for thought. This nonprofit group reflects doing for others through fortifying food. Volunteers for this charitable organization indicate they unite efforts to serve as a refuge of hope and love within the community of Frisco, Little Elm and the Colony.

Founded by New Life Community Church Pastor James Hutchins, the nonprofit's board of directors and supporters operate a half-acre, community organic farm at 25631 Smotherman Road in Frisco. 

"Sixty percent of recent food insecure individuals in North Texas were employed, according to the North Texas Food Bank. That's another reason we've become an advocate to diminish food insecurity in Collin and Denton Counties," says Michel Hambrick, St. Arbor board president. 

She says they're driven by a mission to enhance opportunities for healthy, nutritious food resources, community engagement events and to ignite hope in Denton and Collin Counties’ poorest residents. "By investing in improving the lives of our neighbors, we're all richer by developing lasting relationships, compassion and tolerance," she adds.  

St. Arbor volunteers currently assist in two major ways:

  • St. Arbor Community Garden is a collaborative effort with the Texas A&M AgriLife program through the Denton County Master Gardener Association, the Little Elm ISD Horticulture Program and the Little Elm Rotary. They grow organic fruits and vegetables, and offer nutritional classes to focus on canning and preserving fruits and vegetables.
  • The Torii and Katrina Hunter Special Event Center provides nearly 8,000 square feet as a community facility available for weddings, corporate events, family gatherings and private celebrations. Educational and professional development seminars, workshops, and life skills training also is conducted there, along with college readiness, STEM Programs and tutoring to strengthen higher education and employment options for local youth.

"Gardening doesn't have to be intimidating or overly complicated. If there's a willingness to learn, half the battle's already over," adds Beth Johnson, St. Arbor administrator. 

Up to half of the vegetables raised in the St. Arbor Garden are donated to local food banks. 

In the past, Beth says the group hosted a Farmer’s Market to offer residents the opportunity to purchase at low or no cost, fresh produce and to learn home gardening tips for container gardening. She reminds that fresh, healthy produce can help reduce adult diabetes rates (Denton County is 8.5%) and adult obesity rate (Denton County 28.4%); Low-income preschool obesity rate (Denton County 13.8%). "We hope to incorporate this back into the garden in the future."

Michel and ​Beth say company sponsors and individual donations are welcomed and necessary to fulfill the group's year-round initiatives.