In order to combat the lack of grocery stores in north Killeen, a group by the name of Killeen Creators was established. The founder of the group, Kelly Flading, wanted to create community gardens that were within walking distance for residents so they were able to obtain fresh produce.
“To get fresh produce, you have to go on the other side of I-14 but unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of people who can get there but it was Kelly’s dream to have a community garden that is within walking distance,” says James McWilliams, the head of operations of Killeen Creators. Unfortunately, Flading passed away this year due to cancer, but the group is still out there carrying out her dream and creating gardens.
The Ramon Alvarez Garden, will be the group’s third community garden within the area and sits on top of the foundation of Alvarez’s childhood home, 408 N. 18th St., which he donated to the group. The other gardens are located on 503 W. Ave. J and 1410 Bundrant Drive.
Kristen Wright, the head of administration of the group, has big plans for the gardens.
“We want people to get out of their homes and away from their phones, and having a community garden can make a community so much stronger” said Wright. The group also hopes to bring chickens into the mix, along with beekeeping since some of their board members are beekeepers.
“Community gardens are also the perfect educational tool, as well, since a lot of parents had to leave their jobs because of COVID and are now wanting to stay home with their children as their teacher; The garden can definitely teach them a lot about the environment,” said Wright as she showed the Herald around the garden.
Board members of the group come from all walks of life. Board member Clayton Tucker, a former Texas Senate candidate, came on board with the group due to his experiences as a former kindergarten teacher.
“Seeing a kid who is clearly dealing with issues of food insecurity is hard to see but helping out with this group and creating gardens will help deal with those issues,” said Tucker.
Billy Sneed, an 82-year-old Vietnam veteran and rancher, is a part of the board simply because he loves to give back.
“I may be old, but it keeps me going,” said Sneed with a wide grin.
Along with helping feed communities, the group also sees the garden as a way to help fight against the issues of mental health and PTSD.
“Being in a military town, we do meet a lot of families that deal with the issues of PTSD but this garden will allow for them an escape,” said Wright as she was gathering the board members for a meeting over a hot pot of apple cider.
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