Trade in your grocery cart for a reusable tote and treat your family to locally grown fresh vegetables!
Through Plant It Forward Farms, families may enjoy a weekly box of fresh, local produce through a Farm Share program which gives newly-arrived refugees access to the American dream. Environmentally-conscious consumers will be helping local refugee farmers and their families to earn a living wage on local urban farms.
What’s in season now? Roselle pods, roselle greens, sweet potatoes, sweet potato greens, hot peppers, eggplant, long beans, French sorrel, arugula, jute leaves, okra, melons and cantaloupe, herbs like Mexican mint marigold, papalo, basil, mint, Malabar spinach, cucumber, and summer squash.
When the season changes in October, expect lettuce mix, kale, collard greens, radishes, beets, carrots, onion, endive, cilantro, parsley, turnips, and many other early-fall vegetables. “We are working with some local fruit growers to bring homegrown avocados, guava, figs, and papaya to several farm stands,” says Daniela Lewis, Farm Stand Manager.
“The new season begins October 8th!” says Lewis. “Joining our Farm Share is the best way to support your neighborhood farmer. Farm Shares come in two sizes - Petit and Grand. Farm Share members pick up 6-8 varieties of freshly-picked vegetables once-a-week at a convenient location. We have 18+ pick-up locations throughout Houston.”
You may sign up at any time for a pro-rated amount. The contact information is as follows: Main Line: 713-432-0754 or Farm Share Line: 832-983-0405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Created in 2012, Plant It Forward provides land and tools to refugees who have settled in Houston. Many have spent years living in extreme conditions just waiting to live the American dream.
“After they receive training at a model farm and business assistance to help them sell their produce effectively, they are free to manage their own farms,” says Lewis. “They can then sell their fresh produce to farmers markets, farm stands, farm shares, and restaurant sales — making that American dream a reality for these refugees. A portion of each successful farm helps pave the way for others. Houston is settling a record number of new refugees every year. Most have spent years in refugee camps outside of their own countries living in extreme conditions while waiting to realize the American dream. Once here, they are faced with huge challenges assimilating into their new homeland as few have the language or job skills to find meaningful work. Some of these refugees come from agrarian backgrounds and they know how to raise quality food, but there is not a single classified job posting for an experienced farmer.”
Houston is a desert when it comes to fresh, locally grown food. “We import almost all of the food we consume, even though eight out of ten Houstonians say locally grown food is important to them,” says founder Teresa O’Donnell, a Westbury resident. “Fresh produce is in such high demand and short supply in Houston, that even our most visionary grocery stores are labeling produce from El Paso – the equivalent distance as Nashville – as “local!” As a city overflowing with land, sun and water, we deserve the infrastructure to be able to grow and purchase healthy, fresh and local food.”
Plant It Forward Farms brings together the people and resources needed to make that vision a reality. We partner with social and religious groups to provide land and tools to refugees who settle in Houston with few other skills besides farming. Refugees receive training at a model farm, as well as additional business assistance to help sell their produce through farmers markets, farm stands, farm shares and restaurant sales. A portion of each success helps provide opportunities for future refugees. Through Plant It Forward Farms, refugees can become active and contributing citizens that help Houston realize its potential as a leader in sustainable living.
“Houston is in the process of reinventing itself, perhaps more than in any other major city in America. That change will be advanced only if we create access to healthy food, if we make the best use of the land and assets we have available, and if our neediest are given opportunities to support themselves. By fostering the sustainable growth of both the city and its individuals, Plant It Forward Farms can help lead Houston to a healthier, more prosperous future way for future refugees to replicate and create more farms all across this great city.
If you’d like to stop by and see one of the farms, come during Farm Stand hours and meet the farmers.
Choose from four Plant It Forward Farms, either at
- St. Paul Presbyterian Church, 7200 Bellaire Blvd., Houston TX 77074;
- Braeswood Church, 10595 Fondren Rd, Houston TX 77096. This is a three acre farm at the corner of Fondren and Willowbend. Plant It Forward farmers have been planting, growing and harvesting this land since summer 2012;
- University of St Thomas, 1318 Sul Ross St, Houston TX 77006 on 1/2 acre at the corner of Yupon and Sul Ross. Plant It Forward Farms began building beds and planting in April 2013 and began harvesting produce in the summer of 2013.
- Also, find a farm stand in the Westbury Community Garden, 12581 Dunlap St, Houston TX 77035.
Plant It Forward Farms is very excited to announce its newest farm located on one acre of land in Sharpstown at 7700 Bellaire Blvd. 77074. Watch www.plant-it-forward.org for updates. Then enjoy your fresh produce in recipes like this one:
Okra and Tomatoes Recipe
8 ounces fresh okra
1 large shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large green tomato, chopped
1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thinly slice okra and shallot; sauté in 2 Tbsp. hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until okra is golden brown; transfer to a bowl. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in skillet. Add green tomato, grape tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes or until softened. Combine tomatoes and okra mixture. Stir in basil, parsley, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.