When Margaret Tucker was challenged by some friends at the Green Avenue Farmers Market to grow some food, she rounded up a bunch of kids and had them do it for her.

Tucker created Killeen Young Gardeners, which is a small group that coordinates with Killeen Housing Authority’s youth services to get children out of their homes and into the garden.

“My thought is always get the kids involved,” Tucker said. “They’re doing something other than playing video games or on the computer.”

What they’re doing is turning Tucker’s backyard into a full fledged vegetable garden. On Saturday afternoon, 9-year-old Diego Lamar tilled soil enriched by years of pecans falling from the trees behind Tucker’s home on Toliver Street in north Killeen.

“I like the vegetables, pumpkins and all that,” said Diego, a fourth grader at Bellaire Elementary School.

As Diego tilled the soil, 5-year-old Sanai Robinson-Snyder worked with a small compost pile Tucker has been creating with trash from local businesses. She takes coffee grinds from a nearby 7-Eleven and banana peels from Sonic.

Sanai’s favorite part of gardening: “Planting,” she said.

By October, Tucker said she hopes several plants will be ready to harvest. As a reward for the children’s work, they will be allowed to keep any money made from selling their vegetables at the Green Avenue Farmer’s Market.

Already planted are radishes, ochre, pumpkins, onions, squash, cucumbers and cantaloupe.

To learn more about Killeen Young Gardeners, call Tucker at 254-526-0593.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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