Big Tex Urban Farms has helped start several gardens and urban farming-related projects across Dallas over the last few years and just last month, we had the opportunity to develop a unique project. In the spirit of our community, we spent the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday building a new community garden at a very special place right down the street from our home in Fair Park: The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.
Located in the Farmers Market District of downtown Dallas, The Bridge is a multi-service campus offering basic needs services, along with access to healthcare, income alternatives and a long term housing solution for those in need. Besides offering some much-needed services in the community, the Bridge also houses some equally important initiatives on its campus, including one that really caught my eye; a soup kitchen. It’s called The Second Chance Café, a place where another worthwhile organization called The Stewpot serves three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to all that are hungry.
When Big Tex Urban Farms sought out to develop a new garden in the community, we enlisted the help of one my friends, Nick Marino of TangoTab. TangoTab is an app designed to help with hunger issues by allowing users to check in at local restaurants and donate food to those in need. Together, we decided that The Bridge would be an ideal location to donate our services in developing a community garden. Several months of planning went into developing our concept and eventually, with the Bridge’s help, we developed an idea to take our community garden to the next level.
Our idea is simple: we start a community garden that not only provides fresh produce for the Stewpot’s Second Chance Café but also serves as a training ground for the guests of the Bridge so that they have a better chance at finding employment opportunities in the workplace, particularly in the restaurant industry. The Big Tex Urban Farms and Marino are currently developing a training course for the Bridge’s staff who will in turn train the Bridge’s guests to maintain the garden. Our training course will teach basic gardening care (watering, weeding, etc.), plant identification, and planting schedules, among other topics. Some of the garden space will be reserved for growing flowers. Experience in growing flowers can be a useful skill set to assist job-seekers landing jobs in both the nursery and landscape businesses.
To say that the Bridge and the Second Chance Café are on board with this idea is an understatement. Many members of their staff have already volunteered to help with this project and the Stewpot’s kitchen staffs have already requested that we plant several varieties of herbs, onions, swiss chards, and other greens. Programs like this take time to execute properly, so Big Tex Urban Farms is certainly proceeding with care to ensure the process isn’t rushed. The most important part is that we launched the project and everyone is really excited! I will keep you posted as we progress.
Back Home on the Farm
The cold weather doesn’t mean that we’re hibernating back home at Big Tex Urban Farms in Fair Park. We’ve been busy planting our outdoor winter crops and there a few new, exciting things “cropping up” inside the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway. But I’ll save that for next time! More soon, until then Happy gardening!
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