FORT WORTH, Texas — It’s a passion project aimed at changing lives.
On any given day, Steven and Ursula Nuñez are toiling away in their backyard in the Glencrest area in Southeast Fort Worth.
Over the last few months, the married couple has been busy composting — a process that will lay the foundation for their family farm.
Both Ursula and Steven grew up without access to healthy food. Over the years, bad eating habits led to health issues, such as diabetes among their family members.
Now, they’re working to change that.
“With diabetes on his side and heart disease in my family, it was like, we need to focus on what we’re eating and teach others to do the same,” said Ursula.
That mission brought to life Mind Your Garden, their soon-to-be urban farm and community garden.
Once complete, it’ll be a place where neighbors can drop by to pick up fresh produce, visit the greenhouse and take health and cooking classes.
The Glencrest neighborhood is considered low-income and low-access by the U.S Department of Agriculture. For many living there, accessing healthy food is a struggle.
“We have a small amount of grocery stores in the area, but tons of fast food restaurants, convenience stores, liquor stores, those are all in abundance here,” said Steven.
Beyond growing food, they want to help the people in their community break the cycle of unhealthy eating. But they know all too well, it’s not easy.
Linda Fulmer, the executive director of the Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration, has done extensive research on food access across Tarrant County. She understands the difficult task the Nuñez family is up against in their mission.
“Sometimes, people in the community don’t necessarily want to buy the food when they see it,” said Fulmer. “They’ve culturally and educationally grown up eating other types of food, junk food. So just having the health food available doesn’t always make people step up and buy it.”
A December 2020 Retail Food Environment research project by Fulmer found that 82.5% of Tarrant County residents consumed fruits and vegetables less than five times per day. That same report found 24.3% ate at fast food restaurants two or more times per week, while 66% of residents are overweight or obese.
Mind Your Garden has become a reality thanks to Grow Southeast, an initiative between the Office of Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, the Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration, and CoAct. The initiative aims to address food and economic inequities across Southeast Fort Worth.
Steven and Ursula are determined to help others on their path to health and wellness.
“Our mission is to plant seeds, because not everyone is ready to change the way they eat or their lifestyle…it’s gonna be few, but it will be rewarding,” Steven said.