Dallas' first urban farm started in a vacant lot and grew into far more than the small garden that started it all.
A quote on a garden wall says, "I will be everything they say I could not be." That's just one of the many messages behind the mission at Bonton Farms in South Dallas. When founder Daron Babcock was first introduced to the south Dallas neighborhood of Bonton, he discovered a community that didn't have access to food; it was a modern day food desert.
"We believe that a small urban farm can transform a community."
But he could see that it was also a community full hope. "These men had been through so much, and were still standing and still fighting. Their resilience just amazed me. What they had been through would have killed me."
After almost a year of fellowshipping with these men, Daron felt called to do more. So he left his home and job in Frisco and moved to the Bonton neighborhood. "At the time, I was the only white person living in Bonton. It stood out like, 'What is this person doing here?'"
After immersing himself into the community, Babcock discovered the people of Bonton needed two things: Jobs and healthy food. "From day one, people started calling in sick and I was like, 'You cannot do that. If your name is on a schedule, you have to be there.' What I didn't know is that my neighbors were sick and dying."
"The answer was a farm."
With the closest grocery store being three hours round trip by bus, the people of Bonton were starving for healthy, fresh food. "For almost half a century, this neighborhood had been without food."
To help combat both problems plaguing the neighborhood, Babcock founded Bonton Farms. "We planted a garden next to my house, and it died."
"Investing in the soil yields healthy plants; investing in the soul yields healthy people."
Years later, a new garden is flourishing; from peppers to goats and everything in between, the garden is providing much more than fresh food to the community. "While food is really important for people to flourish... the farm is really about helping people, that have been through stuff, recover from that; restore themselves and then go out and flourish."
If you're interested in helping out or learning more, Babcock invites you to come visit! Monetary donations are great, but he says everyone can help in some way. Even going to Dallas Farmers Market and picking up a few fresh items grown at Bonton Farms can help change a life. To learn more, visit BontonFarms.org.
"An agricultural intervention to restore lives, create jobs and ignite hope in the most forgotten and neglected neighborhoods for the most marginalized and vulnerable people."