DALLAS - A multi-million dollar project hopes to expand and bring more essential services to an underserved community in South Dallas.
On Thursday, Bonton Farms kicked off Project Gamechanger – a $11.6 million fundraising campaign to fund a health and wellness center, a financial institution and an affordable tiny house village in the long-neglected neighborhood in South Dallas.
Over the years, the farm has grown from a garden meant to address the food desert in the community to an establishment with two farms, a farmer’s market, coffee house and café.
"The closest Whole Foods was probably about 6-7 miles away from here," explained Clifton Reese, director of community development for Bonton Farms. "The closest grocery store was four miles away."
"When I first got introduced to this community, a lot of the people here were looking for work and having a hard time getting it. Started to clean up our community, learned about the health issues that are the result of the food desert. And so we planted the garden to kind of kill two birds with one stone so to speak," said Daron Babcock, the CEO of Bonton Farms.
Babcock said it prompted a deeper conversation with the community about the lack of basic resources in the community.
"And so, we’re embarking on an effort that we call Project Gamechanger to try to raise about $11 and a half million to bring health and wellness, a community financial resource center and sober living workforce housing to our community and more. It will round out the effort that we’re trying to bring to our community to restore it and to see a brighter future for all that call Bonton home," he said.
Thursday’s campaign kickoff included a ceremony with city leaders and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson at the site of the future Tiny House Village at Bonton Farms.
"What we’re looking to do is to create a pathway for people that have struggled whether it be incarceration, addiction, homelessness or many of the other issues across our city. For people to be able to come here and find a pathway for them to migrate into being self-sufficient. And so, one of the things we need is a really well-defined pathway and tiny homes are one of those really important steps," Babcock said.
Bonton Farms hopes to be an example for other communities to grow.
"Getting sober or getting a job and holding it down or learning behaviors that are going to help me be more successful," Babcock said. "Those are hard to do. But if I know I have a safe place to rest tonight, then I’m willing to do that stuff for this."
Bonton Farms will be looking to community partners and philanthropists to meet its fundraising goals.
For more information about the farm and Project Gamechanger, visit bontonfarms.org.