Community health, hunger and sustainability are the hot topics of Tarrant Area Food Bank’s 2016 conference for urban farmers, gardeners and community members from across North Texas. “Dig Deep: A Conference for Growers” takes place Saturday, July 16 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at UNT Health Science Center’s Medical Education and Training Building, 1000 Montgomery St., Fort Worth. Those interested can learn more and register at tarrantareafoodbank.eventbrite.com.
With one in six Texans facing hunger every day, Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) is offering the conference to equip new and experienced growers with strategies and resources to help them start or enhance their gardens and farms. The conference is made possible through the collaboration of Tarrant Area Food Bank and the UNT Health Science Center. Both organizations manage and support community garden projects in the DFW area.
“The purpose of this conference goes beyond sharing knowledge and information with a group of like-minded people,” said Becca Smith, Community Garden Coordinator for TAFB. “We want to create an opportunity for growers in North Texas to expand the reach and impact of the positive work they do in our community.”
Conference topics include “Starting a Community Garden,” “Rainwater Harvesting,” “Farming in the Sprawl,” “Food Justice and Community Food Systems,” “Composting 101” and more. Following the conference, attendees are invited to take a tour of UNT Health Science Center’s community garden located on campus.
“A key goal for our garden and this conference is promoting a healthier community,” said Sandy Bauman, sustainability coordinator for the UNT Health Science Center. “Through our university’s community garden, we are helping feed those in need, educating people on organic gardening and encouraging environmental stewardship.” At least 25 percent of the produce grown in the center’s garden plots is donated to local food pantries, including one of TAFB’s partner hunger-relief agencies.
Since 2014, Tarrant Area Food Bank’s Learning Garden has been a space for people on a tight budget to learn how to start and maintain their own gardens. At no charge, community members can borrow gardening tools from TAFB’s tool lending library and choose from an array of seeds to plant in their gardens. Every week, volunteers of all ages come to the garden to learn new gardening techniques while helping plant and harvest produce that is distributed to a local nonprofit serving families in need.
“Community gardens and urban farms provide people with more access to fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a greater understanding of how to produce their own food,” said Micheline Hynes, Nutrition Services Manager for TAFB. “This conference is very much in line with Tarrant Area Food Bank’s mission to empower communities to eliminate hunger by providing food, education and resources through innovation and collaboration.”