A local food garden that is part of a massive effort to restore a 35,000-acre lignite coal mine has yielded about 10,000 pounds of produce for six food pantries since it began harvesting in April 2022. Texan by Nature, founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, estimates it has served approximately 2,000 people per month in Limestone, Freestone and Leon counties. The mine used to fuel NRG’s Limestone Electric Generating Station, a 1,688-megawatt power plant that began running on cleaner-burning coal from Wyoming in 2016. So far, NRG has replanted 3,500 acres with native grasses, is creating 700 acres of wetlands and has fully reclaimed 5,590 acres. Recent reports show the soil is fertile with no toxic-forming materials present.“We want it to look like it was never mined before so when I bring my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I can say, ‘Look, there was once a mine here’,’” Joe Harris, a 56-year-old Jewett mine reclamation specialist.

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