Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Dry/Promise of Peace.

Local nonprofit Promise of Peace Gardens is planning its next garden at J.L. Long Middle School.

Founding Director Elizabeth Dry, who teaches sixth-grade at the school, says this will be the 14th garden her organization has built. The first garden was created 13 years ago on East Grand Avenue, and it included a partnership with Woodrow Wilson High School.

Twelve gardens have had to move, and there’s one working garden in West Dallas.

“It’s been a journey,” Dry says.

Gardens provide an opportunity to unite diversity and grow community, Dry says. They also are used to teach social-emotional and academic learning, and self-sufficiency. Over 6,000 families have benefitted from the gardens in the past 13 years, she says, and many of them are growing their own food now.

“In the garden, it just brings people together,” says Dry, who lives in Little Forest Hills. “It provides that healing. It provides the nutrition. It provides connections.”

Next week, Dry will start a “farm-to-fork” after-school program with about a dozen kids. They will create a collective vision for the garden, which will begin with herbs and pollinator plants.

She says she wants to expand the garden in the spring.

“It’ll be a real community-based garden that really fills a lot of need that exists in our schools today, and communities,” she says.

Promise of Peace is also set to have its annual Okrapalooza fundraiser this weekend. The event will feature a cook-off among about 10 chefs from North Texas, including Mark Wootton of Garden Café.

There will also be a silent auction and live music played by Mack Price, Jr. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 11 at Texas Ale Project (1001 N. Riverfront Blvd.). Tickets cost $75, and children under 12 get free admission.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Dry/Promise of Peace.