Photo by Julia Hart
The tomato plants in the Wilbur Ellis employee-run garden are more than six feet tall and loaded with fruit thanks to caretakers Jose Cardenas and Reynaldo Barragan. The garden has been a fixture at the Grandview plant for about seven years.
Most mornings Wilbur Ellis employees Reynaldo Barragan and Jose Cardenas spend a few minutes before work caring for a large garden plot to the north side of the business property. Co-worker Jorge Vargas tends to a much smaller plot nearby.
Loaded with three varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers and five or six varieties of chile peppers, the 40’x20’ garden produces enough to feed the rest of the local Wilbur Ellis crew and their families during the summer.
“We even share with our neighbors,” Barragan said.
The garden endeavor has the approval of the company management, said branch manager Davie Trevino.
“The men asked if they could plant a few vegetables at work. I told them if they kept the weeds down, it was okay with me,” Trevino said.
“We all enjoy the fresh produce at lunch,” Trevino said.
Nine-year employee Barrigan leads up the gardening effort. He has been working on the project for maybe seven years. Originally, he and interested co-workers used plastic storage totes as planters, located on the south side of the fertilizer property.
The plastic planters got too heavy, so Barragan and his fellow gardeners started planting their plants directly into the ground.
Jorge Vargas, who has been with the company for four years, continues to grow water melon and cantaloupes a few peppers and tomatoes in the original Wilbur Ellis plot.
Trevino said the garden is kind of a morale builder. “Everyone has an interest in its progress,” he said.
Cardenas, who has been with the company about a year, enjoys the time she spends in the garden
“I used to follow my dad around in his garden. So it’s nice being out here in the mornings,” he said.