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Success Story

Urban Agriculture Workshops Highlight Projects and Opportunities for Urban Growers

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Group of people at urban ag workshop.

Urban farming is a growing trend in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. NRCS and FSA are stepping in to offer trainings and assistance for beginning urban farmers.

Story by Dee Ann Littlefield, Public Affairs Specialist, Henrietta, Texas

Urban farming is a growing trend in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. But for many people, they haven’t grown a garden before so while the want-to is there, they need help with the how-to. That’s where the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are stepping in to offer trainings and assistance for beginning urban farmers.

Over the summer of 2022, USDA and Texas AgriLife Service collaborated to offer free urban farming workshops to give the public an opportunity to see urban agriculture projects in person and learn more about support available to urban producers, as well as connect attendees to  FSA’s Urban County Committee.  The first workshop was held at Foster Adventurous World Changers (FAWC) Conservatory of Arts and Sciences farm in Lancaster and hosted by Coy Poitier, chairman of FSA’s Dallas’ Urban County Committee.

Coy Poitere teaching urban agriculture workshop in Texas.

FAWC Executive Director Coy Poitier is a certified master gardener with experience in permaculture landscaping and urban farming experience. The workshop gave Poitier the opportunity to showcase his rainwater catchment system, high tunnel, vegetable garden and pollinator habitat he established on the farm with technical and financial assistance from NRCS.

“Our mission is to help in the fight against food insecurity,” Poitier said. “These workshops are a great way  encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices and to start to understand the resources available to them, such as the programs and support USDA offers for urban farming.”

The second workshop was held at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Office, Water Education Building, at their location on Coit Road in Dallas.

“We received funding from NRCS to help build high tunnel, vegetable garden, pollinator habitat, and rainwater harvesting,” said Joe Masabni, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension vegetable horticulturist, Dallas. “This program allowed us to showcase what we have built and what we are growing.” 

In addition to lecture presentations at each workshop, there was a tour that included the vegetable garden and high tunnel. 

“The USDA is working to support urban agriculture as it plays an important role in growing not only fresh, healthy food where grocery stores are scarce, but also providing jobs and beautifying neighborhoods,” said Michael Higgins, USDA-NRCS urban conservationist.

Workshop attendees learning about the benefits of a high tunnel system.

Urban agriculture includes the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas. Community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic facilities, and vertical production are all examples of urban agriculture.

Masabni said urban farmers expand access to nutritious foods, foster community engagement, provide jobs, educate their communities about farming, and expand green spaces.

“These farmers and gardeners play a key role in communities and whether they are established, just starting or considering becoming involved in urban agriculture, this program provides an opportunity to learn about our ongoing projects,” he said.

“By connecting with customers in agriculture and working voluntarily with them, I help address natural resource challenges through free conservation technical assistance and a conservation plan,” he said. “This conservation plan may lead to financial assistance to support urban agriculture.”

Crissandra Lee, a USDA Dallas Urban County FSA Committee member, and Stefen Tucker, FSA county executive director were also on hand to meet more of the community members they serve and address any questions.

Texas FSA County Committee Members at urban agriculture workshop.