Thanks to Jessica Tullar Caroom’s passion for planting, Lubbock communities and schools are becoming more involved in the region’s food system.
After starting a school garden for Christ the King, Jessica wanted to launch a nonprofit that focuses on helping school and community gardens thrive, especially in lower-income neighborhoods.
“I always joke that you have to be careful about showing interest in something because they tend to put you in charge,” Jessica said.
In 2020, she founded Growing Together Texas (GTT), an organization dedicated to connecting West Texans to fresh, healthy and local produce.
One way the organization achieves this goal is by giving people the opportunity to grow their own food. Jessica works closely with the Booker T. Washington Community Garden, along with a small garden in the Guadalupe neighborhood and provides resources such as seeds, compost bags, mulch and basic growing information to new gardeners.
“In this part of Lubbock, there is just not a lot of opportunity for people to get local food,” Jessica said. “There is a gap in knowledge about how to grow food, so we try to bridge that gap as much as we can.”
Additionally, GTT partnered with Juicy Lucy’s Veggies to include a monthly pop-up farmers market at the Booker T. Washington Garden. Each month, Lucinda Mann packs up her big, yellow mobile food pantry and offers fresh produce including potatoes, onions, eggs, meat and so much more. Jessica said the market participates in the Double Up Food Bucks program, and the garden is also open for people to come and pick their own vegetables for free.
The organization also offers seasonal recipe boxes for people to purchase. The box includes ingredients for four seasonal recipes, all provided by local farmers. Past recipe boxes included produce from Quail Feather Farms, E3 Farms, Juicy Lucy Veggies and Noble Farms Texas. Jessica said these boxes not only provide access to local produce but also give consumers the tools needed to cook a healthy, delicious meal. You can purchase a meal kit on GTT Facebook or Instagram page for $45, and with each purchase, a recipe box is given to a family in need.
While the organization is only a year-old, GTT has helped connect Lubbock communities to their food shed while instilling a love for growing in the hearts of citizens. Jessica wishes to grow the organizations by eventually adding cooking classes and more community-wide work days to get more people involved.
“There is nothing more important to me than being together with people in a garden,” Jessica said. “I find the conversations had around the soil to be so much more meaningful, and everyone deserves an opportunity to have that safe place where they can work and connect with others.”