The Coppell Community Garden started with just a handful of volunteers in 1998. Over 20 years later, the nonprofit organization has cumulatively donated over 250,000 pounds of produce to those in need of food.

The Coppell Community Garden now operates out of three pieces of land in the city of Coppell: Helping Hands Garden at 255 Parkway Blvd., Coppell; Ground Delivery Garden at 450 S. Denton Tap Road, Coppell; and Old Town Garden at 345 W. Bethel Road, Coppell.

Chris Hanson has been manager of the Old Town Garden since it opened in 2017. He also serves as the president of the Coppell Sustainable Food Organization.

"We're very successful at creating a community that people like to garden in,” Hanson said. "Plus ..., we’re a donation garden, so everyone that adopts a plot agrees to donate at least 80% of what they grow to the Metrocrest [Services] food pantry.”

Amid the coronavirus fallout, Metrocrest Services said it has seen in the last week a 27% increase in pantry visits as of March 20. They have served a total of 223 families with 14,284 meals.

"While some employers indicate they plan to pay their employees even if they close, we expect that to occur for only a limited amount of time and primarily benefit full-time workers,” Metrocrest Services organizers said in a statement. "This will lead to a greater need for our housing assistance program to ensure families can pay their rent and avoid eviction.”

Other than food assistance conducted in partnership with the North Texas Food Bank, Metrocrest Services also provides information and referrals, case management, rent and utility assistance, budgeting and financial education, workforce development and senior services.

Coppell Community Garden’s donations to the food pantry are all organic, Hanson said.

"Our gardens are all organic, and they always have been,” Hanson said. "Our compost [is] really the backbone of the productivity of our garden. We constantly make and apply compost to our beds."

Being a community organization, even the garden’s compost is locally compiled.

"In our compost, we get coffee grounds from local coffee houses, like George [Coffee +] Provision and Liberation Coffee. And then, we also work with Market Street, [which] provides expired produce, which goes in our compost.”

Those interested in adopting a plot at the Coppell Community Garden need to follow a few simple steps, Hanson said. First, they must ill out an adopt-a-plot form at Volunteers can select which garden they wish to work at and pay a one-time $10 fee.

The program is open to gardeners of all skill levels, Hanson said.

“We're very fortunate in this particular garden in Old Town [Coppell] to have two Dallas County master gardeners as part of our gardening community,” Hanson said. “Between those two folks and other experienced gardeners, we help new gardeners get on board, teach them about the gardening process and generally make them fairly successful."

Those interested in helping with Metrocrest Services can find various programs at the organization’s website.