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Friday, June 3, 2011

Fort Worth's Community Gardens

Cruising through Fort Worth's south side I passed a sign that read "Fairmount Community Garden" with a list of sponsors below it.

What is a community garden? I wondered. According to the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) website, it is any plot of land gardened by a group of people. It can be urban, suburban and it can have flowers or vegetables.

Located on 5th just across from Fairmount Park, Fort Worth's neighborhood garden has 76 leased plots, director Susan Harper said.

Harper said Andrew Schoolmaster, TCU's dean of liberal arts, and Paul Paine, Fort Worth South, Inc. president, approached her in 2008 to start the garden. It took them two years to get everything together because it was the first and only community garden of its kind in Fort Worth. There was some red tape.

Schoolmaster (what a name for a dean) is an urban geographer, so it made sense to him that Fort Worth needed a spot like this.

The community garden has a few plots for children where parents can educate them on nutrition and gardening. It is also a source of food security for the underprivileged families in the area. For a $35 annual fee a family can lease a plot. This price includes mulch and water to take care of their veggies.

Community gardens are also great for urban renewal — it takes an empty space and makes it attractive again. And it truly is pretty, which is why it must have won first place in social revitalization at the Neighborhood of the Year Conference. Harper was very proud to share this with me, as she should be. The garden has only been open for a little over a year, has an award and a waiting list.

Thanks to a comment on this blog I learned several community gardens are sprouting in Fort Worth. A Tarrant Area Food Bank website has a list of local vegetable gardens you should check out! It sounds like they have a lot of great things going on for the community.

You don't have to live in the Fairmount community to participate in this urban experience. Harper said people from TCU area, Mistletoe, Ryan Place and other areas have leased plots. If you would like to get on a waiting list or know more about the garden, call Susan Harper at 817.721-7223.

Fairmount Community Garden

The Sign

Fairmount Community Garden
p.s. I should note there are community gardens in many other parts of the metroplex, but this is the only one in Fort Worth proper. Check out Dallas' Community Gardens of Oak Cliff website. Coppell has them too!