The doors of the new urban USDA Service Center in downtown Dallas recently opened. NRCS Texas has two employees located at the office and they will soon be joined by FSA employees.
Story and photos by: Dee Ann Littlefield, Public Affairs Specialist, Henrietta, TX
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently opened the doors of it’s new urban USDA Service Center located at 3102 Maple Avenue in Dallas, Texas. Situated in the heart of the “concrete jungle,” the office is immersed in the downtown city environment, along with the challenges and opportunities it presents.
“It’s important for us to be where the producers and consumers need us most,” said Laura Broyles, NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations who oversees the office. “Urban farming is a rapidly growing sector, and we want to available to help producers grow viable crops while conserving natural resources. We can education them on innovation conservation practices that can maximize output within a constrained physical area.”
Urban farms are often container gardens, rooftop gardens, vertical gardens, community and backyard gardens and other creative uses of space for growing fruits and vegetables.
“Many people think urban farming is vastly different than the traditional farming we see on large fields in rural areas,” Broyles continued. “But the fact is – it’s all still farming, and the conservation practices we recommend are very similar. Crop rotation, cover crops, irrigation water management, soil nutrient management and more are all practices for both small and large farms. They can have a positive impact on their bottom line and improve crop yields.”
The new office will focus on assisting small farm production and conservation efforts in urban areas. This includes providing guidance on sustainable farming practices, access to financing and grants, technical assistance for crop and livestock management, and advice on navigating local regulations and zoning requirements, as well as information on networking and marketing avenues through local gardening organization, farmers markets and restaurants that purchase locally grown produce.
Michael Brooks, NRCS urban conservationist, and Mikela Pryor, NRCS engineer, are available to work one-on-one with producers to provide technical and Farm Bill program assistance as well as participate in educational workshops. They will soon be joined by Farm Service Agency representatives that will provide urban producers with information on starting, financing, and protecting their urban farm or garden.
The opening of a new USDA office in downtown Dallas marks a significant development for urban agriculture producers in the Dallas County. Previously, producers in this area had to travel to the Arlington USDA field office for assistance, which served both large and small farming and ranching operations. However, the new office in downtown Dallas specifically caters to the needs of urban agriculture.
This dedicated office acknowledges the unique challenges and opportunities faced by urban agricultural producers. Urban farming often operates on a smaller scale and faces distinct challenges related to land availability, zoning regulations, and community engagement. By establishing a specialized office in downtown Dallas, the USDA aims to provide targeted support and resources to address these specific needs.
This initiative reflects the USDA's recognition of the growing importance of urban agriculture and the need to support and encourage its development. Urban agriculture not only contributes to local food production but also promotes community engagement, improves access to fresh and healthy food options, and enhances the overall resilience and sustainability of cities.
The opening of the USDA office in downtown Dallas demonstrates the government's commitment to supporting urban agriculture and empowering producers in Tarrant and Dallas counties. By providing specialized assistance and resources, this office will help foster the growth and success of small farming operations in urban areas, contributing to the overall vitality and food security of the region.