Texas Ragtime, Inc., a textile recycling company, opened its doors in Athens, Texas twenty years ago in the old Curtis Mathes facility on Flat Creek Road.  The signed lease gave impetus for the cleanup of the large facility and its ultimate usage after many years of neglect.  The company had the opportunity to purchase an existing facility on seven acres near the Bethel community on Highway North 19. The company more than doubled the available square footage with a new facility built by Athens Steel Company.  The company recycles several million pounds of textiles, annually, along with distributing private label sorbent materials for industrial spills.  The company employs approximately 45 full-time employees.

In light of being a GREEN, recycling company, Texas Ragtime is taking a new direction: building keyhole gardens to grow organic vegetables.  Currently, ten gardens, containing over 30 different vegetables and herbs, have been built by and for company employees.  Each garden contains 2 to 4 different vegetables.  All plants were started from organic seeds.  Some will produce in early  Summer, others will bear fruit in late Summer and into the Fall.  Teams of four or five employees are responsible for the tending and compost feeding.  All produce will be shared among the employees.  The gardens are built very simply and use recycled cardboard, paper, and kitchen produce waste

As explanation, keyhole gardens were invented in Africa by missionaries who taught the native people how to grow food in small areas, many of which were hard struck by droughts.  The gardens are easily-accessible, raised gardens with a compost area in the center.  A small walkway is included to allow access to the compost area, hence the name “keyhole garden.” Typically, school children are taught how to build the gardens who, in turn, teach their families to build the gardens for their home meals with healthy vegetables and fruits.

The employees will be involved in seminars to teach each other the importance of adding fresh, clean foods to their diets.  Recipe books in Spanish and English will be used to make vegetable dishes which are fun, colorful, and flavorful!