DALLAS (CBS11) – A new effort in South Dallas aims to sprout more backyard gardens. A seedling farm debuted Tuesday at the MLK Center that supporters say will bring both jobs and healthy food to an area that struggles with a severe shortage of both.
“I’m blown away,” said a Dallas artist known simply as ‘Vet’. “I am just totally blown away.”
The artist says she’s ready to add to her family’s south Dallas roots by putting some in the ground. She wants to start a community garden on her family’s property. “I can eat good when I’m on the road, it’s not always fast food. But, when I come into South Dallas, I have to bring my stuff with me, because I know that it’s not available.”
Supporters say the new seedling farm will help improve access to fresh vegetables in the area, a crisis that’s come to be called, a ‘food desert.’
“The food desert is more than a food desert,” says Owen Lynch, an associate professor of organizational communication at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. “It’s a health desert, it’s an infrastructure desert, it’s a job desert.”
The seedling farm is a collaborative effort by Lynch, who is also a senior research fellow at SMU’s Hunt Institute for Humanity and Engineering, and numerous local Dallas urban farm organizations.
According to Lynch, in South Dallas, many residents live at least a mile away from a grocery store, calling the area one of the largest food deserts in the country. While applauding the many new urban farming and gardening efforts in recent years, he says the Seedling Farm will help to overcome yet another barrier by providing low or no cost seedlings that have been specifically selected to grow in this area and this climate.
“We have experts here who can help them with what you should be growing here,” says Lynch. “What grows best for you: and here are the seedlings.”
Those local experts will provide seminars and guidance on everything from keeping the plants watered, to keeping them cool in the blistering Texas heat. Tyrone Day is the agriculture specialist on site.
“If just one will be able to learn to plant a seed,” says Day. “My thing is, when each one teach one to seed one, you can feed and beautify an entire community.”
Lynch also serves as president of the nonprofit urban farm consulting agency Get Healthy Dallas. He says it’s important that solutions geared for the South Dallas community also include that community. So Miles of Freedom, a local nonprofit which supports the formerly
incarcerated will create jobs through the program growing the seedlings.
The seedling farm will operate year round and the community is ready.
“It’s about timing,” says Vet. “It’s about timing, and now’s the time.”