“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re thousands of miles away from the corn field.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
With dirty hands, glistening skin, and dusty, tousled hair, Damian reaches to pull another squash off the stem before it’s too hard to eat. Damian works for an urban farm in the heart of inner-city Little Rock called Dunbar Garden.
Dunbar Garden sits on a two-acre plot, wedged between a library, school, and houses that sit side by side. It’s a flourishing garden, home to livestock, popular place to volunteer and an outdoor classroom. During the school year, students ranging from preschool to eighth grade gather around Damian with wide eyes as he brings to life topics that they have only seen in science textbooks.
Topics like plant reproduction, the worm’s digestive system, bee pollination and how food goes from the farm to the store are covered in their gardening and environmental education classes. (They teach over 150 classes a year!)
“Can we eat this?” is a question that Damian hears frequently from students touring the garden. He said, “It’s interesting to watch kids wrap their head around the fact that their food doesn’t have to come from a store. That it actually does come from a thing that is often times stinky, dirty, sharp, pointy or itchy. It’s hard work. It doesn’t just happen.”
Learning does not stop with elementary students, as teenagers and adults alike come to see all Dunbar has to offer. Some come with eager hearts and working hands to volunteer their time and physical labor in the garden. Others, like Chef Chris McMillan from Boulevard Bistro in Little Rock, come to purchase the farm’s harvest.
What may be the most impressive stat about Dunbar Garden, is its self-sustainability.
While donations are a big part of the garden’s success and are greatly appreciated, the majority of the farm’s profits comes from selling their products. The farm’s energy is powered by a three-blade windmill that sits off to one side, towering over the garden. Aside from two paid employees, all of the planting, maintenance, and harvesting is graciously done by volunteers who randomly show up each day.
There’s a clear passion and dedication for Dunbar in the hearts of everyone who is involved with its success.
A simple word that volunteer Lorraine uses to describe Dunbar Garden. It didn’t take elaborate sentences or an extensive vocabulary to show what the garden means to her. It’s become a home, a place of solitude and relaxation. Dunbar has created a family. One that is unique and full of passion, one that is working to change the way urban citizens view agriculture, one that brings a community together creating that rare unity.
For more information about Dunbar Garden, click here.