La Bajada Urban Youth Farm takes root in West Dallas

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Behind the multi-million dollar cluster of restaurants and shops known as Trinity Grove sits a small garden making a big impression on its neighbors.

La Bajada Urban Youth Farm is a non-profit with a two-fold mission: to teach teens how to grow and consume their own produce and to create a sense of community and ownership in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood.

Javier Garcia, a 17-year-old who dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer, has been working with the non-profit for more than a year. He and other teens from the area plant and harvest an array of fresh organic produce that would make any chef's mouth water.

"We have vegetables I've never heard of, and so many kinds of tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuces," Garcia said.

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The garden started with the help of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Arlington, which provided overall project development and design services for the construction of an urban youth farm. It was modeled after a similar idea in New Orleans and has quickly taken root in Dallas. 

Keith Nix sits on the urban farm's board and says it's also about shaping young men and women into vibrant young adults.

"Well they actually get paid to garden. Instead of working after school at a fast food chain, they're here and they take what they learn with them to their lives and their families," Nix said.

Nix says local restaurateurs also purchase the surplus produce and use it for dishes on their menus across Dallas.

"It's neat to see this collaboration and it's getting ready to take off. The chefs have told us we're here to support this effort," Nix said.

The program is still relatively new and, like the plants in its garden, it hopes to grow and spread year after year.

For information on how teens can sign up or how you can donate, check out the non-profit's website.