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This Community Farm Is Serving Up Healthy, Affordable Food In A South Dallas Food Desert

Courtesy of Paul Quinn College

Since 2010, Paul Quinn College's "We Over Me Farm" has grown more than 30,000 pounds of food for the community. It has also stepped up its efforts to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Dallas is a food desert, with limited access to healthy, affordable options. Food insecurity has only increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dallas' Paul Quinn College is trying to help with its "We Over Me Farm."

Ten years ago, the college tried unsuccessfully to find a grocery store to open a location in South Dallas.

“We even offered land for like $0 rent, you know, for people to come build whatever they wanted to build and on campus and that wasn't happening,” said Chris Dowdy, Vice President of Academic Affairs at the historically Black college.

He said once those efforts fell through, the university transformed its football field into the "We Over Me Farm." Since 2010, the garden has grown more than 30,000 pounds of healthy and affordable food for the community.

Dowdy said the farm has had to shift gears during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people struggling.

They're expanding partnerships with faith-based organizations and food pantries. They're also increasing donations to the North Texas Food Bank, giving them at least 20 percent of the farm's produce.

“It's such a clear indication of what's possible when we think about our resources without unnecessary constraints," Dowdy said. "It's never just a field, it's never just a building, it's never just a school. Especially in this neighborhood, there's always a way I thinking of it from a new or different perspective, one that's more appreciative of what can be grown and what can come out of these spaces.”

Paul Quinn’s campus is currently shut down, so there aren’t as many hands around to tend the garden. In the meantime, Dowdy said they're reworking their business plan, so they can supply more food when students return.

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Rebekah Morr is KERA's Morning Edition producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.