BY REBECCA HOEFFNER
For the last four years, two men have been working alongside Smith County Jail inmates in the East Texas Food Bank Community Garden, driving tractors and planting crops. They aren't prisoners, and they're not getting paid. They do it as an expression of their Christian faith, they said.
"I enjoy doing it," Donnial Trimble, 62, said. "It gives back to the community and helps people in need … God gave something to us so that we would give to others."
The East Texas Food Bank community garden is a collaboration between the nonprofit, the Sherriff's Office and the Texas AgriLife Smith County Extension Office.
Trimble and Deal Folmar, 59, grew up with a farming background, they said. Folmar came to be involved with the project through his connections from a career of more than three decades with the Sherriff's Office. Trimble's connections were with the extension office.
The 4-acre garden produces about 10,000 pounds of food for the East Texas Food Bank. This year's garden will produce potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peas, squash, okra and eggplant.
The East Texas Food bank operates in a 26-county area, serving hundreds of thousands of East Texas residents.
For the plowing and fertilizing, Trimble uses his 1952 Farmall Super A Tractor.
Why does he use such an outdated model?
"When it ain't broke, don't fix it," Folmar said with a grin.
Trimble still maintains that "for plowing, you won't find a better model … I've been driving Farmalls since I was 12 years old."
The two farmers seem more reticent than the average person, perhaps a sensibility of a time gone by. But they know more than one reason why they enjoy the volunteering that they do.
"It brings peace to the mind to be out here working," Folmar said. "It helps with your day-to-day challenges to relax and know that you're helping other people. I wish today's kids could get out and do something like this … I hope to continue for many more years."