Help This Farm Revitalize an Impoverished Community Caught in a 'Food Desert'
One of the historically worst neighborhoods in South Dallas—Bonton—is known for its high crime rates, drugs, gang violence, and prostitution. Half of its ~15,000 population lives below the poverty line, more than half of its kids drop out of high school, and about half of its men go to prison before they turn 25. Bonton has been so underserved for years that it became infamous for its crime it and was a benchmark other cities strove to avoid. Nothing seemed to help.
Daron Babcock, the founder of Bonton Farms, made an important discovery about the lifestyle of crippling poverty in Bonton. Most people were sick. Physical illness had reached abject infiltration. He soon discovered it was due to a "food desert"—there was plenty of food but none of it was healthy and fresh. So he launched a local farm. Bonton Farms' "agricultural intervention" model delivers three crucial elements to human flourishing: fresh foods for growing a healthy community, meaningful work for creating jobs, and sharing life for igniting hope. Not only does Bonton provides healthy fresh foods, but it also provides work and safe housing for marginalized and vulnerable people. Once people's health started turning around, the positive revitalization from this community farm-based model rippled through individuals and families and transformed entire neighborhoods.
In the first year, the farm produced more than 20,000 pounds of fresh food and grew to over 40 acres in two locations. Once in stable housing provided by Bonton Farms, 82 percent of people became employed full-time.