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Starr Co. Garden Growers Worry about Lower Temperatures

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RIO GRANDE CITY – Freezing temperatures could be disastrous for crops and gardens across the Rio Grande Valley. Many residents in Starr County depend on vegetable gardens to eat.

Much of the county is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls a “food desert.” Many families do not have access to fresh healthy food.

Many families rely on community gardens; the dropping temperatures have them concerned.

The Escobares Garden provides all the vegetables some families can get. There is not a grocery store within walking distance.

“A lot of the families from Starr County come, they clean, they work on this garden and they take a lot of the vegetables,” Heidi Arteaga said.

Arteaga helped start the community garden program through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. She said many families have come to rely on the vegetables.

“This program is for low-income families from Starr County. We help them and we teach them how to start their own vegetable gardens at home, so they can have more access to healthy food,” she explained.

They grow everything from carrots and lettuce to radishes and beets.

With the changing weather, they could lose much of the vegetation.

“We are a little bit worried,” she said.

Arteaga is trying to harvest what she can before the freeze comes. Many of the families who eat the vegetables from the garden also grow their own at home.

“With low temperatures, we recommend to bring your tender plants inside the house if possible. If not possible, you can cover your plants with cardboard boxes or little blankets,” she said.

Arteaga said it’s taken time to get this community garden project up and running. She hopes a freeze doesn’t set it back.

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