New community garden comes to Cypress

The Calabria Foundation, a local organization dedicated to providing mobile medical services to people in need, began the implementation of Calabria Gardens—a community garden aimed at supporting various organizations and charities—earlier this month north of the Fairfield master-planned community at Schiel and Mueschke roads.

"We found that there were several organizations just clamoring for fresh food donations," said Chris Pantuso, executive director of the Calabria Foundation. "My family has always taught that 'life is service,' and I've never been afraid of hard work. The Calabria Foundation is thrilled to see the Calabria Gardens project takes its first step towards realization."

Destin Drywall & Paint Inc. donated a portion of its property off Schiel Road to provide room for the nearly 100-square-foot rectangle garden, and according to vice president Glen Smith, there is an additional 10 acres available for the garden to expand. Pantuso said Destin has gone above and beyond to help implement the garden, and he would like to keep the garden small at first to work out any issues and until enough volunteers and organizations are able to help.

"Destin has always been a family oriented business," Smith said. "We're not just employees here, we are family, and family is a big part of the community. We want to do anything to help the community."

Work on the garden began April 20 and is expected to be ready for its first round of crops in time for summer, Pantuso said. After speaking with several gardening experts, Pantuso said he expects the first crop to contain okra, turnips and possibly cabbage to grow during the warmer months.

Upon completion, fruits and vegetables harvested from Calabria Gardens will be used to support Cypress Assistance Ministries, Cy-Hope and the Houston Food Bank's Keegan Kitchen. Seasonal produce such as tomatoes, asparagus, cucumber and watermelon are expected to be planted and harvested throughout the year.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables are the among the most sought-after food items by food banks and the clients they serve," said Brian Greene, president of the Houston Food Bank. "Limited shelf life makes fresh produce difficult to secure and transport, but we really appreciate such donations because Houston Food Bank is dedicated to providing nutritious food to our clients."

Pantuso has reached out to establish future partnerships with several key clubs, the Fairfield Women's Club and a local boy scout troop for volunteer efforts to establish walkable pathways, parking areas and the truss—or staging area—for the garden.

Apart from establishing the community garden, the primary mission of the Calabria Foundation is to implement and maintain a fleet of mobile medical units to help those without access to basic medical services and preventative care.

To learn more or for information on volunteer opportunities, call 210-216-6646 or visit www.calabriafoundation.org.

Destin Drywall and Paint

20141 Schiel Road, Cypress