SAN ANTONIO – The near-East Side of San Antonio continues to see a transformation and could be spurred further by an urban garden that may soon be coming to fruition. Tommy Calvert, Bexar County Precinct 4 commissioner, has been pushing the bold project along.
"You're looking at an area that this community has called ‘The Goonies’, because it is overgrown,” said Calvert.
The area is a 10-acre plot that lies along a railway across from Wheatley Middle School. Calvert believes this unkempt property can be converted to a modern urban garden. He plans to change the name to the “the Greenies,” a positive play on words to the current name.
"In our case, it’s about 10 acres and it’s an opportunity to bring the community together to engage in fresh fruits and vegetables,” Calvert said.
Urban gardens are not a new concept, but this project, according to Calvert, will be much more. He hopes to relocate the Bexar County Agriculture Extension Office (also known as the Texas Agrilife Extension Service) to the site, facilitating additional opportunities.
"Visitors can learn about fresh vegetables, canning, making honey, even beer and wine,” said Calvert.
A restaurant may even be in the works along with a vineyard.
The plot of land has long been owned by Union Pacific. According to Calvert, the county is in the final stages of negotiating a deal with the railroad company to buy the land.
Bexar County will be allocating $1.2 million for the project, with some money saved in rent by placing the Agriculture Extension Service on the land. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has pledged $250,000, while San Antonio Master Gardner’s is interested in contributing $200,000.
"It would be an area where we could have weddings, we could have receptions,” said Calvert, who hopes to make it a destination for all San Antonians.
Calvert said he plans to put the project on a fast-track with a completion expected within the next two years.