At Bonton Farms in South Dallas, Daron Babcock is working to cultivate a not only a sustainable urban farm, but also a vibrant community space that inspires creativity.
The farm, which opened in 2013, works to combat the issues associated with the neighborhood's status as a "food desert" by providing training in agricultural sustainability, health education, access to healthy locally-grown organic foods, job training and employment.
The land in Bonton where Babcock, who is the director of Bonton Farms and the director of Urban Missions at H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, opened the farm, which used to be a dumping ground for any manner of things. Babcock constructed a fence around the entire area to signal to the neighborhood that something was happening on the land.
However, after building the fence, Babcock said, "I stepped on the property one day and it felt like something different than what I wanted — I wanted it to feel like the community's farm, not mine or anybody else's."
It was then that he realized the 600 linear feet of 8 foot tall white fence could become a giant canvas for local artists so that everyone who stepped onto the farm could be inspired.
"We're solving a problem that has existed for generations through creativity," Babcock said.
Bonton's mission to inspire the community through creativity and positivity is what drew Matthew Brinston, a Dallas-based painter, to paint a mural at the farm which is being unveiled today.
"The whole point of me painting is to have a positive influence on people's lives," Brinston said.
The concept for his mural, "Bonton Blessing," came from a conversation he had with Patrick Wright, the farm manager at Bonton. He described the farm as an angel giving out blessings to the community, a sentiment that is directly depicted in Brinston's mural.
This is Brinston's largest piece of work measuring 20 feet by 8 feet and he hopes that it will have an equally large influence on those who view it.
"I hope that it will inspire people to give back to that same community and have a positive influence on the people they are around every day and that that will cause a ripple effect," Brinston said.
More on Bonton Farms:
Dallas Morning News reporter Roy Appelton's journal from Bonton