Michael Bell is the “plant daddy of Dallas.” He grows organic produce on a half-acre of land in Texas, where food insecurity is ranked the fourth highest in the nation.
Bell discovered his love for plants while helping his grandmother with her vegetable garden as a child in Bowie, Texas. He later founded Dallas Half Acre Farm, where he now grows lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and other seasonal vegetables. Some people call him “the salad guy.”
The farm operates on less than half an acre. Bell prides himself on his approach to growing crops, where everything is done by hand, the soil is never tilled to save nutrients, and fertilizer is never used. He says this makes his crops taste better than average, and his customers agree.
Bell believes his farm is adding more to the environment and the community than taking away.
“As soon as I got involved in it, and I started asking people about food and listening to people complain about food, it just clicked,” he told Inside Climate News. “I can grow healthy food. Every customer that I get just strengthens my resolve to keep going.”
Urban farming is becoming increasingly popular as a potential solution to food insecurity and addressing food deserts. According to the USDA, more than 13 million Americans live in food deserts — areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Texas scores fourth in food insecurity in the country, and the overheating of our planet is predicted to exacerbate the situation in the coming years, according to the World Bank.
Growing food in urban environments can mean fresher food, too, since it requires less transport time. And if you do it yourself like Bell, the cost savings can also be significant.
Bell says his aim is to grow enough delicious and affordable produce that locals will opt for his fruits and vegetables instead of the imported stuff sold around town.
“I want to be the reason why Walmart can’t sell produce in Dallas,” he said.
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