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Happy Monday!

Good Morning Y’all! Saturday was eventful (and busy) for Opal’s Farm. We were unable to be at Cowtown Farmers Market due to the Dig Deep Conference at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) and Community Resource Day 2021 at McDonald YMCA.

I was honored to be a presenter at the Dig Deep Conference this year. Dig Deep is a growers conference held annually by the Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Tarrant County Food Policy Council. I was excited to talk about Opal’s Farm, “Empowering Communities Through Food”, and giving everyone a seat at the table. I am proud to be associated with the sponsoring organizations. I attended several great breakout sessions and got to network with new friends and old. Kudos to Chef Robyn Frascella who prepared an incredible lunch for the attendees. The food justice community in Fort Worth – farmers, activist, and advocates – is an amazing group of people!

Stacey Harwood, our Volunteer Coordinator, manned our booth at Community Resource Day 2021. We want to thank all who attended and for the overwhelming support for Opal’s Farm. We especially want to thank Dr. Belay Reddick and Community Resource Day 2021 for taking this time to give special honor to Ms. Opal and Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks for their service to our community. Well done, Dr. Reddick!

It’s Monday and the start of a spectacular week at the farm. We’ve started Fall planting and beginning to get a handle on the weeds that sprouted after the wet May. Moderate temperatures (a cold front is coming tomorrow!) and unusual July rains have stretched the tomato season into mid-summer. Purple Hull peas are in abundance, squash is producing steadily, and the test beds of bottle gourd and bitter melon are going well. We will have cantaloupe on Saturday as well. We hope to see you all Saturday at Cowtown Farmers Market.

We’d love to have you come by the farm too! We love our volunteers and we’re always happy to provide a bit of dirt therapy for all.

As always – if you’re unable to volunteer at Opal’s Farm you can always support our work by going to www.unityunlimited.org, the Opal’s Farm page and clicking on the donate button. Every dollar goes to the farm and providing food for your neighbors.

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Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers

I’d like to invite all Opal’s Farmers to come out to the 2021 Dig Deep Conference. Opal’s Farm will be talking about “Empowering Communities Through Food”. There are programs for all types of growers. We’d love to see you there.

Please join Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Tarrant County Food Policy Council for an exciting and educational event – Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers!

Growers of all kinds from all over the North Texas region are invited to attend the conference as a means to network with other growers, learn more about important aspects of growing, and participate in an event highlights the important and positive work being done in our area to help end hunger and promote a healthier community.

Tracks will be offered on Home, Community and Market growing, ensuring that there is something for every kind of grower.

For more information and registration, visit https://digdeepconference2021.eventbrite.com!

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“We must proclaim the truth that all life is one and that we are all of us tied together. Therefore, it is mandatory that we work for a society in which the least person can find refuge and refreshment… You must lay your lives on the altar of social change so that wherever you are, there the Kingdom of God is at hand!” – Howard Thurman, Commencement address, Garrett Biblical Institute, 1943

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Extra Special Juneteenth (Thank you Ms. Opal!)

The Juneteenth Festival this weekend will be a special celebration, both here in Fort Worth and nationally. A signing ceremony in the East Wing of the White House made Juneteenth, the 19th of June, a National Holiday. Words cannot express the joy and pride I felt as I watched President Biden sign the bill and hand a pen to our beloved Ms. Opal. Many prayers have been answered. Let the celebration begin!

Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the bill and sent it over to the House where it passed with bipartisan support on Wednesday. I’m at Opal’s Farm all day so I didn’t here of the passage until last night’s 10 o’clock news. I never call anyone after 10:00 PM (I was taught a call after 10:00 better involve blood or it was completely socially unacceptable), but I had to call Ms. Opal right away. “You did it”, I cried.

“No, WE did it”, she said. “There have been so many people along the way who made this happen”.

I wouldn’t have expected any other answer. That’s the kind of person she is. I’ve learned much about true humility from Ms. Opal, but she earned the title “Mother of Juneteenth” from her many years of persistence and dedication to a vision. Many others worked to make this day a reality, but it was a “little old lady in white tennis shoes that gets in everybody’s business” (her description, not mine) that blazed the path forward.

She personifies Juneteenth. That’s why the holiday has come to mean so much to me. Her constant reminder that “no one’s free until we all are free” echoes through all we do at Unity Unlimited, Inc. and Opal’s Farm. I’m amazed and proud I get to be a part of it all.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving as the Farm Manager for Opal’s Farm for the last three years. I’ve listened to the stories and the history that I never knew. One story has always stood out. On Juneteenth, 1929, when she was only twelve years old, her family home was burned down by a white mob upset by a Black family moving into their neighborhood. I’d heard the story through media reports, but it was Ms. Opal who told me the one detail that had the greatest impact on me. She told me she decided that day so long ago “that I was going to hate what they did, but I wasn’t going to hate them” (the white mob).

That a twelve-year-old girl could have that spirit of love and forgiveness was astonishing to me. It makes perfect sense when you see her today. I’ve learned more about loving and forgiving others in the last three years than I did in the previous fifty!

Ms. Opal, I’m so proud to be a small, small part of your journey. Thank you for all you have done – not just for me, but for all of us. I’ve prayed diligently for this day. To see you honored in the East Wing of the White House by President Biden, Vice-President Harris, and so many members of Congress was the

was an honor to know, love, and be loved by you. It still doesn’t make my heart swell as much as when you said you were my grandmother too!

That being said…

Opal’s Farm will not be a Cowtown Farmers Market this weekend. We’ll be with Unity Unlimited, Inc., Ms. Opal, and hundreds of others for an extra special and one-of-a-kind celebration. Please join us at 10:00 AM for our walk with Ms. Opal from Evans Plaza to the Tarrant County Courthouse. The celebration continues with the I Am Juneteenth Festival at Panther Island Pavilion beginning at 3:00 PM and followed by fireworks at 9 PM. What a better way to begin celebrating freedom for us all.

Image: President Joe Biden hands a pen to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., after signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House on June 17, 2021.