Mansfield high school senior leaves legacy of service with garden to supply local food pantry

When a Mansfield high school student decided to rehab an old garden as a school project, coronavirus had just begun to spread. Now, the plot is growing into a vital food source.

Reagan Powers may be graduating soon from Mansfield's Legacy High School. But thanks to the 18-year-old, it’s a new beginning for a plot of land behind the Harvesting in Mansfield Food Panty and the greenhouse taking shape next to it.

“About 16,000 of Mansfield high school students go hungry, and it’s kids that I’m sitting next to in class,” Powers said. “And I don’t even know that they are missing a meal or on free or reduced lunch.”

It’s a food source beginning to blossom at a critical time for the food pantry.

“The demand for families has probably been 150 percent increase,” said Gregory Dewbrew with Harvesting in Mansfield. “We’re doing 500 families per week now. Before, we were doing maybe 200.”

Powers is one of 10 chosen statewide out of 135,000 Future Farmers of America members to be a Ford Leadership Scholar. The garden and greenhouse that she built with her dad was her leadership project.

It’s a departure for this future agriculture lawyer. Powers spent her entire high school career in Future Farmers of America, but gardening was still out of her comfort zone.

“I’m not the gardening type. I don’t know anything about gardening,” she said. “So I definitely learned a lot about what needs to grow when.”

It was a steep learning curve and a reality check at a time when high school seniors are forced to reprioritize.

“It’s opened my eyes to all of the things that are important to me and I should be thankful for, like my family, and being able to not worry about where my next meal is coming from, especially right now,” Powers said.

“This project allows her to leave a legacy of service in our community,” said Chanelle Roberts, FFA advisor. “They are taking charge and taking ownership. That just makes my heart happy.”