Betting on Spring
I was sitting on the porch drinking coffee and listening to the sweet songs of the mockingbird that perches on our catalpa tree every Spring. When I got to the Opal’s Farm, I saw the first robins skittering across the newly turned soil. We had what I hope is the last freeze this past Friday night. The lettuces and Tokyo Bekana that was beginning to sprout survived with flying colors. I feel ready to say that Spring has finally sprung here in North Texas. Then again, it is North Texas…
I love when the robins flock to the farm. I enjoy watching them because I know that they know where the worms are and earthworms are one indicator of healthy soil. I pulled some turnips yesterday and saw the mycelium covering their roots. My kids laugh at me about how excited I get to see such things but quite frankly, I don’t care. Healthy soils mean healthy plants. Healthy plants mean wonderful flavor and maximum nutritional value for our customers and those we serve!
This Spring promises to be a pronounced difference from last year. The historic 2021 ice storm and the uncommonly wet May caused dramatic losses to our Spring crops. Everything seems to be on track this year for a successful Spring for Opal’s Farm. Our compost pile is growing (Thank you Carpool Compost!) along with our wood chips for mulch (Thank you J Davis Tree Company!). In fact, we have wood chips available to our community if anyone needs some for their Spring gardens!
We weren’t at Cowtown Farmers Market this week, but we will be there next Saturday. It’s been hit and miss since the first of the year. We didn’t even get to go to market from the first week in January until last week. It was so good to see so many of our regular customers and share Saturday morning with our fellow vendors. We missed you all! We have some of the most awesome folks who share their Saturday mornings with us.
Our Spring Volunteer Sign Up calendar will be updated today. Stacey Harwood, our Volunteer Coordinator, tells me that weekends are beginning to fill up with large groups coming out so be sure and schedule your groups as soon as possible.
We can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are that Spring is finally here. Come and join us as we work the soil, plant Spring crops, and eagerly await the anticipated abundance Opal’s Farm gives us each year!
As always – you can donate to Opal’s Farm at http://www.unityunlimited.org or at our stall at Cowtown Farmers Market. Every dollar you donate to Opal’s Farm is goes to providing a healthy meal to our neighbors. Every dollar you spend at Cowtown Farmers Market helps those with no access to fresh, nutritious produce have a healthy meal and builds our neglected communities!
New Beginnings at the Farm
The Fall crops are in and doing well. The greens are abundant, the tomatoes ripening quickly, and the peppers have been supercharged by the cool night air. We’re taking more and more to market and more coming in the next two weeks. Come and see us at Cowtown Farmers Market and prepare for the holidays!
This is our favorite time of year at Opal’s Farm. The mornings have a slight chill in the air. The summer heat is left behind. The high temperatures hover around seventy to eighty degrees – perfect weather for working. There’s time to clean old beds and prepare new ones for Spring.
The pace seems more relaxed and laid-back. It’s also the perfect time to reflect on our mission, our vision, and our values and focus on the truly important things Opal’s Farm is about. Are we staying the course? How can we do things better? It’s a time to refocus, make sure we’re following the best path toward our goals, and look forward to the coming year (yes, friends, it’s only two months away…).
Our Mission Statement
Building vibrant local communities through regenerative urban farming, faithful gathering, and lasting fellowship
We imagine a world where diversity is evident, opportunities are plentiful, and divisions are crossed, all in pursuit of lasting unity. Opal’s Farm creates community empowerment through food. Through our work we hope to generate a replicable model of community building, engagement, and empowerment.
In keeping with our Mission Opal’s Farm is proud to be part of the Farm Manager Apprenticeship program starting on Wednesday, November 3rd. Grow SE, with a grant from the United Way, is beginning a nine-month Apprenticeship Program for three new farmers from Southeast Fort Worth.
They will be working side by side Grow SE farmers to learn how to plan, build, and grow their own crops using regenerative, organic means of building healthy soil and healthy plants. They’ll each build their own fifth of an acre plot, from planting to harvest, and then market their crops. They will take the knowledge and experienced they gain to their respective communities in Southeast Fort Worth – joining the urban agriculture movement to bring healthy fresh produce to neighborhoods that need it most.
We’ll be introducing you to the inspiring young men in coming posts and keep you updated on our progress.
We’d love to have you come out (weather permitting) on Wednesday, November 3rd at 10:00 AM and celebrate the beginning of the Farm Manager Apprenticeship Program with us. Come meet our new farmers and be a part of the Opal’s community.
Earth Week Celebrations
Join Opal’s Farm and one billion people from over 193 countries in celebrating Earth Day, April 22, 2021.
Earth Day started in 1970 to increase awareness and mobilize people to address environmental issues that affect our health and well-being all around the world. Opal’s Farm is proud to be a part of the movement to make our environment, our world, and communities a better place. Earth Day is every day at Opal’s Farm!
When we began Opal’s Farm two years ago, we made a commitment to
-Building vibrant local communities through regenerative urban farming, faithful gathering, and lasting fellowship.
Why Regenerative Urban Farming?
The first component of regenerative farming is soil health. Healthy soil makes for healthy plants and healthy plants make for healthy people. Soil rich in nutrients means plants richer in nutrients – not to mention the flavor is so much better than those raised with industrial farming methods. Building the soil health is the foundation for the other components or regenerative agriculture – biodiversity, water and cleanliness, and soil carbon sequestration.
My name is Greg Joel. I’m the Farm Manager here at Opal’s Farm. People often ask if we practice “sustainable” farming. The answer is a resounding no! We practice regenerative farming. There’s a huge difference!
“Sustainable” implies keeping things (in our case, the soil) the way they are – to keep them from deteriorating and saving them for future generations to use.
“Regenerative” goes beyond merely preservation of the existing environment. It means to leave it better than you found it – building resources for future generations!
Opal’s never uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. These all degrade soil health over time. That’s why so much land has become non-productive. That’s also why many of the vegetables we love have lost the true flavor we love them for.
Texas soil requires amendments such as compost, other organic matter, and organic fertilizers to build healthy soil and increase vegetable yields. Soil needs to be fed just like we do to be healthy and productive. The difference between soil and plain old dirt is that soil is a vibrant environment full of life – microbes, microorganisms, and bacteria that feed the soil and in turn, feed the plants that live there. Dirt is not – it’s void of the living things that make up what we call soil.
We are so grateful for the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) for providing our five acres for urban farming. One of the ways we show our gratitude is farm organically. The last thing we want to do is use substances that run-off into our beloved Trinity River and contaminate the water we all depend on.
This week of Earth Day celebration reminds us of the responsibility we have as good stewards of the land we’ve been given. We’ll be talking more about regenerative urban farming and about the other components of our mission during the coming week.
None of what we do at Opal’s Farm – regenerative urban farming, providing access to healthy, fresh produce in neighborhoods devasted by food apartheid, and uniting the surrounding community could be accomplished without your ongoing support. The notorious February freeze may have been an obstacle for the Spring season, but we’ve come through with flying colors because of the generous support of our friends and neighbors.
Spring has blossomed at Opal’s Farm and we need your support more than ever. Please give to our work with your donation to Opal’s Farm at www.unityunlimited.org/opalsfarm
Join us tomorrow as we get closer to Earth Day 2021!
We’re Growing (as always)…
I awoke to the sound of rumbling thunder and a soaking rain on Sunday morning. It looks like the pump will get to stay in the barn for a few days. I get to stay home update you all on the farm and enjoy the rest of Sunday with my wife. Opal’s Farm gets a well-deserved shower. It’s a win/win for everyone!
I’d like to thank Roman for all the hard work. Roman is one of the Tarleton State interns with Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration and Grow SE. He’s completed many of his field hours literally in the field! He’s been an unbelievable help to Opal’s Farm – getting tilling, new infrastructure, and preparing beds for Spring (and some great conversation as well!). Roman, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas break. Thank you for all you do!
I’d also like to apologize for the scheduling conflicts that prevented us from setting up at the Tributary Café for Holiday Open Streets on Race Street. As we begin to hire new employees in the coming year we will be able to make more markets like these.
As 2020 draws to a close (Thank God!), We’ve been looking at how we can serve the community better. Our second year as brought so many blessings to the farm – our yields are up twice as much as last year and getting better.
- Grant money was made available through Healthy Tarrant Collaboration and the United Way to improve our overall soil health, provide more variety in the produce we grow, and make key infrastructure purchases.
- Our friends at Zimmerer Kubota made it possible to expand our production area by providing us with a tractor that shortens the time (and labor!) to grow more food.
- J. Davis Tree Care has brought over truckloads of woods chips from their yard. Much of it is already composted and applied directly to productions. The chips that aren’t composted cover the walkways and help with weed control.
- The White Settlement Home Depot (store #8521) has been a huge sponsor of Opal’s Farm and came through again this season. Natasha Neidhart, the Store Manager and District Captain for Team Depot (the Home Depot Foundation) pulled together our wish list and added things we needed and didn’t even think of. We couldn’t ask for a better partner and friend of Opal’s Farm. We give them a tremendous “shout out” and an even bigger “thank you”.
- Blue Zones Project Fort Worth has been one of our biggest fans and supporters in so many ways – financially, volunteering, and setting up compost pick-ups with Elrod’s Grocery on the Northside and Foodland near the farm. Our composting program has drastically improved since last year. Thank you, Brenda Patton and Blue Zones!
- I wouldn’t even think of forgetting to thank our biggest supporter, the Tarrant Regional Water District. Not only did they grant the acreage for Opal’s Farm, but they have also supported us in far too many ways to mention. They will be assisting us with new irrigation means in the coming months. That will improve our irrigation dramatically and make it more efficient. Efficiency leads to increased yields in both quantity and quality.
We hope the changes will be exciting to you as well. We want to make Opal’s Farm more accessible to everyone.
Please don’t forget Cultural Kitchen this Friday at 12 PM CST – 1 PM CST Hosted by Fort Worth Community Arts Center, The Arts Council of Fort Worth and Opal’s Farm