The urban agriculture movement in Dallas, TX, continues to grow, as community members increasingly desire a connection with the land and their food. Many groups work tirelessly to build community ties, create a more sustainable food system, and overcome food insecurity. Below, Food Tank takes a closer look at ten of these inspirational urban farming projects.
Eat the Yard is a closed-loop urban farming operation in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. Food grows in one of several locations, including residential plots, urban rooftops, and backyards. When ripe, crops are delivered daily to area markets and restaurants. Eat the Yard is proud to offer veggies picked the same day as sale, using biodiesel-run equipment. They also offer free compost services to restaurants using their products. In addition, they grow soil and brew a concentrate called “Worm Shine” compost tea, a living cultural medium. Microbes in the tea help build a microclimate of soil diversity, improving the strength and nutrient content of the garden.
Eden’s Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm, just outside downtown Dallas, offers pesticide-free, sustainably raised produce, which Eden farmers call “real food, grown with integrity.” Eden’s farm operations include a Market Day in which visitors can see the farm first hand, an off-site farmer’s market, a CSA program, Dallas area restaurant sales, a separate charitable outreach/community garden, and even provide educational and eco-farm tour programs.
Gardeners in Community Development (GICD), located on Fitzhugh Avenue in Live Oak, is a nonprofit organization of professionals and volunteers supporting neighborhood gardens in Southeast Asian refugee communities. The garden focuses on sustainable production, growing a mix of Southeast Asian crops among native Texas varieties. Plants such as bitter melon, wax gourd, taro, and long beans help newly immigrated families earn an income. Those involved get to enjoy fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs, while receiving an overall improvement of life as a result.
Greenling is an innovative food delivery program that connects local farmers with city residents through an online forum in which consumers can purchase fresh food from the source. Founder Mason Arnold personally delivers groceries in his Prius, admitting that Greenling “began around the simple idea that people needed a way to get fresh, nutritious food and [he] needed to do it in a way that did not damage our environment.” His company, which does not change for delivery fees, hopes to inspire a change in the food system toward locally sourced, healthy food.
Loving Garland Green (LGG), a democratically managed nonprofit just North of Dallas, has one simple mission: to increase the number of urban gardens in the Garland community. Members fulfill this goal through at home garden installations and with a sample garden at the Garland Community Center. According to LGG, “the economy of communities is positively influenced by improved food access.” Thus, in order to improve the livelihood of Garland residents, they distribute agricultural skills and knowledge as well.
Promise of Peace Community Garden is a nonprofit gardening organization that assists neighborhoods around Dallas in building and maintaining their own patches of crops. In an initiative called Plant It Forward, gardeners will receive help with their own gardens before helping others to create their very own garden. The group hopes that their presence will increase access to healthy lifestyle choices, offer children more success in school, and chance perspectives through community engagement.
Pyramid Restaurant & Bar combines fine dining and urban gardening in a unique rooftop setting. Overlooking downtown Dallas, the 3,000 square foot rooftop terrace garden sits above the Fairmont Hotel. That is where former executive chef J.W. Foster planted a variety of herbs, heirlooms, and delicious Texan crops, which he features in the restaurant’s regionally inspired menu. He even installed three beehives after learning about colony collapse disorder. According to Foster, bees, because they are pollinators, “are crucial to so much of what we eat.”
Stonewall Gardens Natural Classroom, located at Stonewall Jackson Elementary in East Dallas, started as a way to teach children about plants. Today the plot reaches over 20,000 square feet of student grown vegetables, native plant species, a chicken coop, and a greenhouse. The garden acts as a key educational tool for science, community, and gives children a connection to nature. Each year, over 540 students plant and harvest crops – cultivating knowledge, skills, and an understanding of the natural world.
Urban Acres Farmstead, located in North Oak Cliff, distributes local, organic food to the Metroplex area. Urban Acres’ co-op produce system brings a diversity of people together to share one common value – the desire for fresh, wholesome food. By supporting local agriculture, community farmers become neighborhood heroes that ensure residents have access to nutritious, pesticide-free food. Over 50 farms supply fresh food to over 2,300 members. Any produce left over is donated to food banks in the Dallas area. Over 10,000 lbs. of produce is donated each week.
We Over Me began in 2010 when Paul Quinn College converted its football field into an organic farm in order to create a new kind of team. A team that tackles food injustice and insecurity by growing and sharing food within the community. The concept for a farm came when the school learned they were living in a federally recognized food desert. Now We Over Me Farm provides hands-on educational experiences to promote healthy eating, improved food access, and environmental stewardship. Students actively engage in all farm activities, from business planning to marketing, and thus serve as a model of socially and environmentally driven servant leadership and entrepreneurship. The team even has a mascot, Spike The Touchdown Tomato.
Want to read more? Top Urban Agriculture Projects Around the World