Local college turns football field into farm

It’s not what you would expect on a college campus – kale, collards, beets and carrots. But at Paul Quinn College there’s produce growing on the football field.

“We’re about helping people live healthier lifestyles. We’re challenging the way higher education is being thought about. We’re doing greater things,” said Destiny Modeste, a senior at Paul Quinn in Dallas.

Modeste is one of several volunteers on the school’s two-acre organic farm.

“We use our farm to help the community members so that they can come get those fruits and vegetables that they need,” she said. “I think about it from a business standpoint honestly.”

About 10 percent of the organic produce is donated to area food pantries. The rest is sold to the community at an affordable price or to local restaurants and businesses.

“There’s nothing bland about a carrot that you just pulled out of the ground. It’s fresh. It’s got a lot of sugar in it. It’s tasty,” said Jason Hunter, the farm manager.

He’s talking about a unique variety of carrots being grown by special request from a Dallas chef. There are also edible flowers in the garden that the chefs love to use as a garnish.

The campus sits in the southern sector of Dallas, a federally recognized food desert.

“We were closer to the city garbage dump than a grocery store,” said Michael Sorrell, the Paul Quinn College president.

That’s why in 2010 the college transformed the football field into the “We Over Me” farm.

“It’s to challenge this notion of a field of dreams. The only way out of poverty is not athletics,” Sorrell said.

However, the farm’s biggest client is the Dallas Cowboys and AT&T Stadium.

“I tell people all the time, ‘Listen. We’ve sent more kale to the NFL than we ever did football players,’” Sorrell said.

The president has big plans for the farm’s future, which could include a second greenhouse, a mobile grocery store, a food pantry and its own farmer’s market.

“It’s just revolutionary. So I always think about that, especially when you’re reminded with the goal posts out here. It’s like, we’ve come so far. We are changing our education. We’re doing things for the community. Not everything’s about sports,” Modeste said.

LINK: www.weovermefarm.com/#!a-community-cooks-2016