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October 22, 2013

Texas – Monday, October 14

My first stop today was going to be at the South Plains Food Bank, where I was going to meet Maxine, who’s the director of GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business). GRUB operates a large 5-acre garden, and is designed to help young people between the ages of 14-21 learn about both farming and business. I met Maxine after her staff meeting, and she was a wonderfully kind lady. I had called her a couple times to make arrangements to stop by when I was in Lubbock (and it took longer to get there than I thought!) and she had even offered to take me out to the garden during the weekend if that’s when I came through. Despite all the rain over the weekend, she was still willing to take me out to the garden so I could see what they’re doing. The kids learn about all aspects of gardening like planning, soil prep, irrigation, planting, nurturing and harvesting. They gain marketing and business skills by going to the farmer’s market. During the school year the kids come out on Saturdays to work in the gardens, and during the summer, 25-30 of them are actually hired to work in the garden. Sometimes when the kids are not working in the garden, local prisoners come out to work. In addition to traditional gardens, there are some raised bed gardens so people in wheelchairs can work in them, and there are also some greenhouse-type buildings called “high tunnels.” One of the high tunnels was full of 5 different varieties of strawberries. Lots of the produce had already been harvested (several crates of roma tomatoes were in the building) but there was still work to do. It was really interesting to see everything, and I was happy to support them. The thing that surprised me the most is that they grow loofas for use in soap making. I had no idea loofas were grown on land – I thought they came from the sea! They had a big trellis for the loofas to grow on, and they hang from their vines. They sort of look like zucchinis. Once they’re picked, the loofas are soaked and then peeled. They have a lot of little seeds in them, and those are removed with a great deal of shaking. The loofas are then soaked in bleach and dried, then they’re ready to be used in making the soap bars. One of the ladies was in the process of making soap bars to be sold at a local market to raise money for the food pantry – she would put a dry loofa in a tall container, and then pour melted soap with added fragrance and the soap fills up all the hollow spaces in the loofa, and when it hardens they have a machine to cut it in thick slices, which are sold as a soap/scrub bar. I’ve bought those at craft shows in the past. She gave me an almond-scented bar, and Maxine also gave me a bag of small yellow pear-shaped tomatoes which were yummy!

Then it was time to do some walking. Tula and I started off with a little over a mile and a half downtown, then I found the Texas Tech campus area. We walked another mile and a half by the “Cottages of Lubbock” which were blocks of cute little homes – maybe both for families and college students. Then Tula stayed in the van while I walked another 2 1/2 miles around the Texas Tech campus and some of the surrounding area. Before leaving town I wanted to visit the Wind Power Center because I like windmills, but when I got there I discovered they’re closed on Mondays. So I couldn’t go inside the museum, but I still saw dozens of different kinds of windmills on the grounds. The variety of windmills is amazing. From there I saw the Canyon Lake Bike Path which went around a lake, so Tula and I walked another 3 miles. Then I really needed to head north!

This area was still cattle country, and they grow a lot of grain, and it’s also one of the biggest cotton producing regions in the country. I drove through all the wide open spaces, and passed some big grain elevators. I passed a town called Tulia, and drove through it, but it was getting dark and I didn’t see any place to finish my last mile of walking, so I’ll have to do that in the morning. I continued driving along through a fiery red sunset to the town of Amarillo, where I stopped for the night.






























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