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Community Food Gardens at Men of Nehemiah

Community Food Gardens at Men of Nehemiah


Growing your own food is an empowering life skill, one that involves planning what to grow and where to grow it, how to prepare the soil and start the plants along with learning which plants will do best in the garden and the follow-through that results in healthy crops and good quality produce. As the season progresses, gardeners choose to add new crops, remove spent plants, and during the course of the growing season keep the pests to a minimum through proactive organic means. Finally, it involves knowing how to prepare fresh produce and preserve the surplus for the off-season.


CBS News Channel 11 news story, November 22, 2023


The Men of Nehemiah (MON) is a local 501C(3) non-profit organization that runs a proactive addiction recovery program. The MON operates with the mission of holistic healing that places stability, healing and empowerment as the primary goals. As part of the program, the campus grounds are utilized to teach food-production skills. For more than fourteen years, the Men of Nehemiah has served over 1,400 men in the Dallas area, and currently it is working with the Texas Organic Research Center (TORC) to teach the skills described above.



A unique aspect of TORC's Community Gardens program is to collaborate with groups to teach the natural organic methods to establish natural organic gardens on their own sites. After the initial planning and growing seasons, the groups mentored will be able to sustain their gardens without ongoing supervision, though TORC will always provide consultation after the conclusion of the partnership.



In 2023 a grant funded the TORC garden at the Men of Nehemiah facility, located south of downtown Dallas, and the garden became an integral part of the MON's workforce program. Participants plant, maintain, and cultivate the garden and the resulting crop production added healthy food items that are prepared in the MON kitchen. Some of the program participants have started work in other neighborhood gardens and have expressed interest in further training to pursue gardening and farm work. The site preparation began in April and the crops harvested included tomatoes, eggplant, okra, yellow squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, herbs and fruits such as watermelons, cantaloupe and berries.



The fall garden was planted with cool weather crops such as lettuce, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, and fall tomatoes. During October through December they harvested several bushels of romaine and loose-leaf lettuce, spinach, cabbage and kale, with many other plants like garlic and onions still in the ground that overwinter for harvest in spring. All planting selections are made by TORC’s nonprofit partners, so that garden production matches the food needs and preferences of the local communities they serve. The food grown in the gardens is used for the daily meals at the nonprofit partners, as well as distributed to neighborhood churches and others in the surrounding communities.



Learn more about the history of the Men of Nehemiah in this Dallas Express article.






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