Urban Farming in Fort Worth’s Food Desert – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Opal’s Farm is 5 acres of land along the Trinity River in the shadow of downtown Fort Worth. It is part of the United Riverside neighborhood that is located in a food desert.

“You look over the river and there is downtown, but it all kind of ends at the river,” said farm manager Greg Joel. “The money stops by the river.”

The 5 hectares of the farm were donated by the Tarrant Regional Water District. It is named after Opal Lee, a well-known 92-year-old community activist who dreamed of helping communities in need in Fort Worth.

“These people don’t have access to food,” Joel explained. There are many shops in the neighborhood, but no grocery store. “They sell things that have empty calories in them. They’re highly processed canned foods, limited selections, and people start to eat them, and it becomes a staple in their diet. You know what? All of a sudden we have health problems.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food wasteland as an urban area where a grocery store is more than a mile away, or 10 miles away in a rural setting. There are 11 postcodes in Tarrant County with this dubious distinction. Tarrant County is among the top 10 counties in the country with the highest number of hungry people.

“We are preparing for spring planting,” Joel said as he spread mulch in the field. “I’m not feeding all of Fort Worth, but I’m doing something and someone has to go to bed with a full stomach because they bought something that we grew.”

In its first season, Opal’s Farm produced 4,500 pounds of food. The farm donates 10 percent of its harvest to the food bank. The aim is to sell 50 percent of the remaining plants at retail prices at the farmer’s market and sell the remaining 50 percent to communities in need at wholesale prices.

“This is a tangible way to meet a basic human need. Not just a need, but a right,” said Joel. “Everyone has the right to fresh food.”

If you would like to volunteer or support Opals Farm, click here for more information.

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