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Can a Tomato Change the World?

I haven’t had much time to post anything. This was a blog from 2018 and it still applies today!

Thoughts From the Porch: I need to get a little personal here. I have an issue that’s close to the heart and after this week, I’m driven to share it with you. I haven’t spent much time on the porch. The early blast of Arctic weather has limited my time there. It must’ve delivered some silent signal to our trees last night. They seemed to release all their leaves at once. Except for the few bold ‘hangers-on’, the yard, sidewalk, and most of the porch is covered in dead and dying leaves.

My tomato and pepper plants succumbed to the freeze. I knew it was coming. The cycle of the seasons is inevitable. I know the time will always come to say goodbye to homegrown tomatoes for the winter. I had hoped we’d somehow escape the unusually early frost. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to tasty, fresh tomatoes, even if it’s only temporary.

I spent this last couple of weeks working on grant applications for Opal’s Farm. Everything met with our Director’s approval and I’m submitting them this morning. I haven’t written grants in many years, so there’s more than a little fear there. Did I do it right? What if they don’t come through? What if, what if, what if…

I want to do well: for the farm and as a writer. I guess I’ll find out how well I did when the grants are awarded.

I’d like to be offering a grand update on our progress, but the wet Fall weather has slowed tilling and bed preparation to a crawl. There’s still much to be done in this holiday (and giving) season. November 27th is the Global Day of Giving. I hope that you’ll keep Opal’s Farm in mind if such days are more convenient for you. Please remember though, donations aren’t contingent on special ‘giving days’, they are accepted 24/7, 365 days a year!

Personal experience has taught me that ‘playing in the dirt’ has the power to change lives and communities and provide solutions to problems far beyond food deserts and food scarcity. If that were all it did it would be a noble undertaking, but it’s much bigger than that.

Several years ago, I was working on a community garden in a local westside neighborhood for B.U.R.N. Ministries. Some of the young men who were in the youth program came to help one day when harvesting had begun. One of the young men asked me what “those are” as I was picking tomatoes. The question kind of took me back. I just assumed everyone knew what they were.

You see, he had grown up in an urban food desert. Most of his diet had consisted of processed foods from the local dollar and convenience stores. He had no idea what fresh produce looked like!

I pulled a tomato off the vine, wiped it off, handed it to him, and invited him to try it. He was reluctant at first. He took a small bite. I watched as his face went from a turned-up nose to a beaming smile. “That’s really good”, he said as he devoured the rest of the tomato. “Can I have another one?”

I’m not saying that one tomato is going to change the world. But I couldn’t help but notice how it changed his face and his perception. It was like shining a light in to a dark place. Once he ‘saw’ the opportunity in front of him he was able to taste the goodness of God’s world. I’d like to think it provided more than simply a great taste sensation. I’d like to think it provided hope.

That’s why Opal’s Farm is so important: to people, to the community, and to the next generation. A simple tomato has the power to change everything. That’s why I’m so passionate about a couple of acres and some wonderful produce.

I could go on and on. Educating people, feeding folks, and empowering individuals for stewardship and the opportunity to leave things a little better than they found it leaves me humbled and in awe of God’s creation.

As a professional writer, I’m supposed to craft my words carefully and ask you to be a financial partner with Opal’s Farm. I’d love for you to be a ‘farmer’, right alongside us whether it be with financial support or digging in the dirt. Moreover, I’m not too proud to beg. My wife always reminds me, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed”. This is a golden opportunity to make a difference; to do something tangible. Right here. Right now.

So, I implore you to join us! You can reach us at:

http://www.unityunlimited.org

http://www.gregoryjoel.com

OpalsFarm on Facebook

@opalsfarm on Twitter

Awe, Community, Creation, Down On the Farm, Environment, Food Insecurity, Food Justice, Gifts, Gratitude, Neighbors, Non-Profits, North Texas Giving Day, Opal's Farm, Peace, Regeneration, Serenity, Service Organizations, Service to Others, Simplicity, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, Volunteers

Paradise Found…

It’s been a busy week at Opal’s Farm and getting busier! The North Texas temperatures have finally started to drop. Many of our Fall crops had to wait for the nights to cool down for proper germination and some that were already in succumbed to the ninety-plus days that hung on until this week. Now we’re in speed planting mode!

We stop periodically to take in the beauty of our little paradise right here in the middle of the city. We got a new neighbor earlier in the Spring. A hawk made its nest in the big oak tree just above the levee. He’s visited frequently, often perching on the tractor bucket as if to say, “What’s up?”. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by us and we love having him around. We haven’t had birds pecking the tomatoes this summer and the field rats aren’t as active with nature’s pest control about.

We need to give him a name! Any suggestions?

The peas and tomatoes are full and lush despite the lingering August heat. The buckwheat has attracted a plethora of bees.  If we find ourselves getting a bit worn out by all the work the Moonflower blossoms stop us with their beauty. Sometimes you can’t even hear the cars on I-30 and I-35. The peace of at Opal’s Farm quiets the noise everything seems right with the world…

We’ve been blessed with some fantastic volunteers over the last couple of weeks. Thank you to the Young Adults from First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth. You made the furrows weed-free!

We’d love to have you come out and see (and feel) why the farm is so special to us and our community. It’s not just the delicious, fresh, local produce we grow that makes Opal’s Farm special. It’s the one place you can find a quiet spirit and meet great neighbors. Come and see for yourself!

One last thing – North Texas Giving Day is coming on September 23rd. Look for Unity Unlimited, Inc. and give on this special day! Early giving is now open for those who will be unable to give on the 23rd. Every dollar you contribute provides fresh, nutritious, Fort Worth-grown produce to neighborhoods that lack access to those foods. We ALL deserve healthy food!

You can learn more about Unity Unlimited, Inc. and Opal’s Farm by going to www.unityunlimited.org.

Communication, Community, Courage, Donations, Down On the Farm, Fall, Fighting Poverty, Food Justice, Gratitude, Neighbors, Non-Profits, Opal's Farm, Seasons, Trinity River, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, Volunteers, What Can I Do

The Unofficial End of Summer

It’s nine o’clock on Labor Day evening. A cool front blew through yesterday and the low nineties seems like a harbinger of the coming Fall. The nights need to cool off a bit before we can finish the fall planting, but there’s still plenty to do at Opal’s Farm.

August is one of our slowest market months of the year. It’s too hot to have much of a harvest. The tomatoes go dormant awaiting the cooler nights of Fall. We skipped market for August and donated the August harvest to some of our neighbors.

Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. We’re back at Cowtown Farmers Market. We missed both our fellow farmers and our loyal customers! It was great to see you all again. We’ll be there this coming Saturday with Purple Hull Peas, tomatoes, and five varieties of peppers.

We have a huge demand for our Purple Hull Peas. Half and full bushels are available but you need to place an order earlier in the week so we’ll have them Saturday. Orders will be filled as they come in. Please feel free to call Opal’s Farm at 817.333.8367 and let us know!

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Jamie, Melissa, and the brave volunteers who ventured into the Texas heat to help trellis tomatoes, weed, and harvest this summer. we love and appreciate you all so much.

The days are getting shorter (and hopefully cooler) and our volunteer schedule is picking up. We hope to see you soon at Opal’s Farm.