The Seedling Farms' Initiative

at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center’s Freedom Garden

 
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Our Goal

The Seedling Farms' initiative was developed as an innovative way to address some of the major barriers to successful local agricultural production. Community gardens and farms can be tremendous assets that not only provide fresh produce and employment but also serves as a source of pride and well-being for the community. However, despite the appeal of urban gardening, many research studies demonstrate that community gardens have a high closure rate and are very seldom economically viable.  Restorative Farms has been designed in collaboration with, and continue to be advised by, a team of experts from the Hunt Institute to fulfill a much needed aggregator role in the fledgling sustainable urban agriculture system in Dallas.

Why
Seedlings?

Growing healthy seedlings is not easy – it takes skill and years of practice. At the MLK Freedom Garden’s Seedling Farm, the process is overseen by master gardener Tyrone Day, who has a degree in horticulture and more than 20 years of experience with urban farming. Day can share his knowledge with community gardeners, both beginners and experts. The process of going from a seed to a seedling is the most vulnerable stage in a plant’s life and requires controlled conditions and constant monitoring. A planned garden often requires a staggered germination of the different seeds to make sure that on planting day the variety of plants are all ready to be planted at one time.  Likewise, preparing properly by “hardening off” the seedlings (the process of getting the seedling accustomed to the outdoor conditions in which it will be planted) is necessary to ensure successful transportation and replanting of the seedlings into a garden.  Jump-starting gardens by planting viable young plants, instead of seeds, means the plants are more likely to survive, mature faster, and produce fruits or vegetables more quickly, resulting in more growth cycles per season, which leads to increased production. Preselecting and then planting precise numbers and types of seedlings allows the gardener to optimize their growing capacity. Planting a young plant in the ground provides immediate gratification for volunteers, students or community members, which leads to consistent investment in the garden.

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Our Model

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Community Process

  1. Meet: Meet with farm manager, Tyrone Day, at the MLK Freedom Garden
  2. Select: Select the best seedlings suited for your seasonal garden
  3. Grow: Seedlings will be grown and matured into young plants for you at the Seedling Farm for easy transportation and immediate planting
  4. Go: Pick up seedlings or young plants that are ready to be planted in your garden, below market costs.
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Community Impact

  1.  Production of 20,000 seedlings produced each year throughout all four seasons
  2. Serving as an educational and community resource to increase children’s familiarity with healthy foods and providing  community gardeners with farming experts
  3. Providing a sustainable source of employment for a master urban farmer
  4. Providing job training for urban farming and farm management
  5. Serving as a one-stop shop for farming and gardening
  6. Maintained a located in the heart of the community