Bad Weather, Climate Change, Community, Composting, Down On the Farm, Environment, Faith, Farmers Markets, Grace, Non-Profits, Opal's Farm, Positive Thinking, Regeneration, Service to Others, Spirituality, Storms, Summer, Tarrant Regional Water District, Texas, Trinity River, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, What Can I Do

What’s Plan B?

A researcher from the City of Austin called me a couple of years ago to ask some questions about having an urban farm on a floodplain similar to Opal’s. The city had recently bought out a thousand homes because of flooding on Williamson and Onion Creek. They wanted to build an urban farm on the property and much like governments do, they had to do a study first. Not that it’s a negative mind you. One should “count the cost” before jumping in, but the city was overthinking the whole project. That tends to happen a lot…

Anyway, this nice grad student from the University of Texas called to pick my brain and had a very long list of questions to be answered. Our conversation went well. Yes, there are challenges to urban farming and no, they’re not that big a deal. Farming teaches us how to work with nature and not against it. Moreover, it’s always a risk since nature tends to win no matter what we do. That’s just the way it is. Resilience must be a core value.

She asked me a question I’d never thought of before: what is your Plan B if it floods? It took me back a bit. “What do you mean by Plan B?”

She went on to explain that they were on a twenty-five-year flood plain and they needed a Plan B if it flooded there. I had to laugh and then remember I was talking to a researcher for the city. Cities have a need to put everything in a plan. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t work like that. I guess that’s why I love it so much. There’s never a dull moment.

I informed her that we had no “Plan B”. If it floods, we rebuild the beds and replant. What else is there to do? Maybe that’s a tad easier for me to say since we are on a hundred-year floodplain and have never had to deal with flooding – at least until this week.

The local media is calling this week’s rain historic. We received a month’s rainfall in a day – fifteen inches at Opal’s Farm. The Trinity River breached a section of the levee and flooded the back half of the farm. I was finally able to drive down there by Wednesday. Walking the beds and negotiating some of the still standing water I was surprised to find the back road covered in dead fish – hundreds of them. The levee is slightly lower on the south end of the farm and had washed over that section and when it receded, it left our finned friends high and dry. It was a first for us.

Needless to say…

We spent the rest of the week on “Plan B” – clean up, rebuild, and replant. We were unable to make Cowtown Farmers Market this week, but we should be there next week. We didn’t lose any of our existing crops although everything was covered in mud. The rain and the cooler nights have led the tomatoes to bloom in force and begin setting tomatoes again. Everything is a vibrant green on the farm once more. The dead fish have been added to the compost pile, so I assume we don’t have to spend anything on fish emulsion. The rain brought us down for “Extreme Drought” stage to “Severe Drought” stage. After all, resilience is one of our core values…

Awe, Communication, Community, Composting, Creation, Down On the Farm, Emotional Health, Environment, Faith, Fighting Poverty, Gifts, Gratitude, Hope, Miracles, Neighbors, Opal's Farm, Regeneration, Simplicity, Spirituality, Spring, Transformation, Trinity River, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, Volunteers, What Can I Do

Freeze One Week, Spring the Next

Good Evening, Cowtown! It’s been a splendid February day at Opal’s Farm (I never dreamed I would use splendid and February in the same sentence…). The jackets came of early as we finished getting the covers on the tomato beds for the Spring. Our potatoes came in and a fifty-pound bag is cut and ready to plant in the morning. We’re happy to announce that Spring planting is underway!

We’ve been absent from Cowtown Farmers Market for the last month. Freeze damage, last week’s  TOFGA Conference, and the market closing for the recent ice storm has left us anxiously anticipating this Saturday – we miss you all and hope you can drop by Cowtown Farmers Market from 8 AM to Noon.

Our resident hawk swooped, down this morning to engage in some helpful pest control. He was carrying off his catch when the crows mobbed up on him and tried to chase him off. The crows are the bullies of the farm. Fortunately, our hawk friend led them past the train trestle and was able to find a quiet spot to eat his lunch in peace.

One of my favorite times at Opal’s Farm is when nature seems to dull the city noise and reveal the beauty that is often overlooked by the fast-paced city life that marks so many of our days. Perhaps it’s growing older, but I find myself reveling in the awe and the beauty of our little place we call home. The farm opened my eyes to the wonders that are right here among us. My son frequently reminds me that I get excited by the silliest things (manure and composting vegetables simply don’t appeal to him the way they do me…).

I get delighted when I turn the compost and steam rises from the soil that will nurture the new Spring beds. I become almost giddy when I see more and more earthworms indicating that we are truly rebuilding our soil knowing I can look forward to a healthy harvest in the months ahead. Ladybugs lie dormant under plant leaves, waiting to devour the pests that appear as the crops grow. The miracle of life awaits me every day and I am awed by the interconnectedness all around me.

I usually arrive as the sun is coming up on days the Grow SE Apprenticeship class is held – the early mornings when the steam rise from the Trinity River and the water is like glass. We have three coyotes that love to come around and keep an eye on us. They don’t run off as quick as they used to, leaving time to watch them as they walk slowly down towards the river.

The egrets often stand guard along the levees – lined up in a single row with equal spacing between them is extraordinary. They take off one by one at precisely timed intervals as I drive down to the pump station. It’s quite a sight and never ceases to amaze me. Now if they’ll only let me take their picture…

We’d love for you to come down and volunteer or just visit. We love to share our little piece of paradise in the shade of downtown Fort Worth. Knowing that what we do is helping our neighbors, our community, makes the day even more special. If you can’t get to Opal’s Farm please come by and see us at Cowtown Farmers Market.

A February morning
Climate Change, Community, Down On the Farm, Environment, Fighting Poverty, Food Equality, Food Insecurity, Food Justice, Gratitude, Hope, New Year's Day, Non-Profits, Opal's Farm, Persistence, Regeneration, Service to Others, Social Justice, Trinity River, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, Volunteers

Closing 2021 (Finally…)

This has been the strangest year I can remember. The ice storm in February and a frozen Trinity River, the downpours of May, a cooler than average summer, a sizzling Fall, and eighty-one-degree record high temperature on Christmas Day. I haven’t worn a jacket in a couple of weeks. It’s no wonder the plants are confused…

Confusion aside, the Fall crops are doing well, and we hope to continue our presence at Cowtown Farmers Market throughout the winter of 2022. We will not be there for the New Year’s Day market. We’re taking some much-needed time off, but we’ll be back January 8th with lots of winter produce for our you all. We can’t wait to see you!

A beautiful December Day!

We’d like to thank our awesome volunteers for all their hard work in 2021. This year has been full of hardships and surprises, but their persistence and commitment helped us finish 2021 strong.

We’d also like to thank the countless donors and supporters who’ve helped us through this rather strange year. If you’re able, please consider making an end-of-the year gift to Opal’s Farm. Help us grow in 2022 – both literally and figuratively! Go to www.unityunlimited.org/opalsfarm and hit the donate button. Even a dollar provides a meal for someone in Tarrant County.

We hope you all have a Happy New Year and let’s grow together in 2022!

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.

4th of July, Community, Donations, Down On the Farm, Events, Fireworks, Gratitude, History, Hope, Neighbors, Non-Profits, Opal's Farm, Parties, Service to Others, Social Justice, Spirituality, Tarrant Regional Water District, Trinity River, Unity Unlimited, Inc., Urban Farming, Volunteers

Ooohs and Ahhhs by the Trinity

We had a great 4th of July celebration at Opal’s Farm last night. An enormous thank you to everyone who came to eat and celebrate with us. I was so busy I forgot to take pictures (we cooked a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs!). Over fifty of Opal’s Farm volunteers, their families, and friends of the Farm shared food, fellowship, and lots of fresh grilled veggies. Our neighbors came in droves to enjoy the best spot on the Trinity to watch the fireworks. Our first annual “4th at the Farm” was a resounding success.

Preparations for next year are starting today. We want to make next year bigger and better. This year was an idea and a test run. We will keep you posted (and give better notice!). Of coming events at Opal’s Farm for everyone!

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

We want to offer a very special thanks to our biggest supporter, friend, and sponsor – the Tarrant regional Water District for making Fort Worth’s 4th of July Celebration the best in North Texas. Thanks TRWD!