By Jennifer Broaddus, The News On 6
TURLEY, OK -- With the economy in crisis, community programs are being shut down, parks are closing and help is drying up.
But a Turley man wants to help others help themselves and not rely on ailing state programs for assistance. With little dirt, a lot of work and regular watering, he's growing hope in Turley.
When people in Turley need help they often go to A Third Place Community Center. There's a health clinic, a library and a food pantry.
"There's quite a few people on a daily basis asking for groceries and so forth, so the more we have, the better off we'll be," said Timothy Nelson, a volunteer.
The need for help is great – 100 percent of Turley students receive free or reduced lunches.
"A third of the residents in our area have food insecurity, particularly for healthy food. They may have a way of getting food, but when you ask them about how healthy the food is, then their insecurity goes up even more," said Reverend Ron Robinson, Executive Director of A Third Place Community Center.
With many state resources drying up, Robinson says he wants to teach others at his community center to provide for themselves.
"So the solution is together to grow our own food and teach ourselves how to cook and preserve it and feed one another," said Robinson.
They hope to take abandoned buildings and turn them into vegetable patches.
Robinson says he already planted a handful of other gardens around Turley that provide food for the community center. Now, he hopes the residents will band together to build a big community garden on an abandoned land.
"A few years ago everybody was saying, they were using the ‘they' word. ‘They' should do this for us. ‘They' should do that and what we've done is we've switched that around to ‘we' are doing this. ‘We' are doing that, ‘we' can do this," said Robinson.
The community center already has a contract to purchase 12 acres of land for the garden and a group of OU grad students created a design for the project. Once complete, volunteers can maintain a plot and take home the vegetables they grow or donate it to the food pantry.
Robinson says the community center still needs to raise about $9,000 for the project. If you'd like you help, visit the community center's website.