If you've dropped by the office on a weekday afternoon recently, there's a good chance that you saw something strange out in the Community Garden. We've had an influx of Trinity High School students out in the pavilion of late. That's very much intentional.
We opened our garden in partnership with the City of Bedford back in 2011. A year later, we completed construction of the 77 plots and pavilion that make up the garden today. Over the years, we've made plenty of improvements to the garden's infrastructure. A new irrigation system went in recently, along with an improved gravel road and even an electrical supply. The garden has played host to concert after-parties and community events. But now, it's time for something bigger.
What is an Urban Farm?
The quick-and-easy answer is that an Urban Farm is exactly what it sounds like: a farm that exists and functions within city limits instead of the traditional rural setting. Rather than the traditional sweeping fields of grain and sprawling orchards, an urban farm is made up of small but efficient crop batteries. Some farms are housed entirely indoors; others are converted from vacant lots. Ours will be a combination of those methods.
The 6 Stones Urban Farm currently consists of 12 garden plots and a greenhouse held offsite. Soon, we will expand the farm to include a patch of previously unused land next to our office in Bedford. We will convert that empty acreage into hoop houses that allow us to do some row farming; another term that means exactly what it sounds like it means. Row crops are more efficient and produce larger yields than the varied plots we currently use and will allow us to grow mass quantities of healthy food on rotation.
Tarrant County has a food insecurity rate of 18.1%. Our neighbors need our help to get reliable, affordable, and healthy dietary staples. The majority of our crops will be donated back to the New Hope Center, just like any other Community Garden produce. Some will be distributed through the Food Share Partners program, allowing us to reach outside of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford community. There's a good chance that we'll even be able to sell some of our excess produce to local businesses and restaurants to help us cover operational costs!
Will It Really Help?
Yes. If there is such a thing as “too much locally grown, organic produce,” we have yet to discover it. But the Urban Farm is about more than feeding people. As the farm grows, we will have the opportunity to create jobs and educational experiences for our community. We are currently in the process of hiring a Part Time garden manager and will be providing more jobs reserved for our neighbors in poverty or on a single income as we expand.
Those THS students we talked about back at the top of this post? They're here as part of a hands-on learning component from three different classes at Trinity. Each group can simply walk across the street to instantly have access to an organic garden that provides them with real-world skills. They might not grow up to be Urban Farmers, but they will at least understand how produce is generated and what they can do to develop healthy habits that will last them a lifetime. Some of them might even start their own miniature gardens at home!
But we need your help! You can help us finance the early installation of the garden by donating to the Community Garden through our Giving Page. And if you really want to make a big impact with a little effort, you can drop by the USAToday's ‘A Community Thrives' contest page and vote for our Farm. You can vote every day, and doing so might just win us $100,000 for the farm! Make sure you share that link with your friends, too!