Date posted: December 29, 2010

Dallas Urban Farming

I’ve been offline with travel and looking forward to getting back in the saddle. Speaking of saddles, I discovered a great community of urban farmers in Dallas, TX. I would not have thought it but it turns out Dallas has fairly permissive laws for keeping livestock within the city. As such, backyard chicken fever is hot in Dallas. Finding myself there for the holidays, I thought I’d make good use of my time. I noticed an announcement in a local rag for a chicken sale event at the North Haven Gardens. Apparently, a neighboring farmer comes out with a trailer full o’ chickens of various ages to sell. Thusly, we met Dan from Bageniece Farms. I was surprised at the fair price, a laying hen for $20! Far cry from the crazy $40 I’ve seen around my neck of the woods.

I’ve heard from family that growing food in Dallas is tough because it gets so hot. However, I found a great book that lists the best varieties to plant and during which months: Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by J. Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck. North Haven had the right idea as a garden store. They have these sale events, they offer classes on city farming, they carry garden and food equipment and feed. I spotted gorgeous hand forged tools for very reasonable prices, ~$26 for a pitchfork.

The organic feed from Coyote Creek Mill was the most expensive I’ve ever seen though, $50 for a 50lb bag. The feed mill carries chicken, rabbit and goat feed though, all organic. That’s something of a surprise. I also met insanely nice people to talk to (one thing about the south is that people can talk to one another without pretense or inflated self regard). I got pointed in the direction of some helpful community resources, a Backyard Chicken group, a food co-op in South Dallas called Urban Acre, and some active community gardens, East Dallas Community Garden and Promise of Peace Garden.  Even in conservative Dallas there are some promising urban agricultural communities!

5 Comments

  1. Rachel @ DIF

    Wow! $50 is insane! I pay less than half of that for organic chicken feed.

    Oh, have you ever been to the El Sobrante Feed Store?

  2. churchmouse

    Dan is the best-known breeder and poultry evangelist here in Dallas. He’s always out there talking to people about chickens. Good guy.

    Much of the chicken chatter on the Dallas side happens on this meetup group:
    http://www.meetup.com/DallasBackyardPoultry/

    Glad you made it down here; sounds like you had fun. Take care.

  3. esperanza

    Rachel: Yeah, I have been to El Sob Feed. They have organic for $25?! That’s a great price.

    Churchmouse: Dan was great to talk to as was everyone else I met there. I met some cool Dallasites.

  4. Leslie Halleck

    Hi there! Thanks for swinging by North Haven Gardens! So glad you found us and love your blog. I’m the GM at NHG. I’m a huge proponent of backyard farming in the city so we provide all sorts of resources, classes and products for veggie gardening and backyard chickens. We’ve been holding our monthly chicken sales and classes for about a little more than a year and a half…but have been a great gardening resource in Dallas for 60 years. We also have a huge organic vegetable garden on the back of the property and sell organic produce to our customers.

    We have a 12-month growing season here in Dallas and you can grow a TON of produce. It’s a little tricky due to our climate, but if you practice and stick with it, you’ll can have a fabulous year-round grocery store in your backyard.

    Just a note on the price of our organic feed. It’s that high because there is only one organic feed mill in Texas and they are in Austin. So I have to pay their full price and also pay to haul it up from Austin. I only take a small mark up on it, so it’s not really a money maker for us. It’s the only organic feed you can buy direct in Dallas. We’re constantly working to try to get organic feed at a lower price, but right now, that’s as good as we can do. It’s what I feed to my girls so it is a very good product. We sell conventional feed as well for a much lower price. The backyard chicken meet-up group meets here at NHG, so welcome all Dallasites!

    Thanks again for visiting!

    Leslie

  5. Esperanza

    Leslie: You all are awesome! I was so pleased to find you in Dallas. Thank you for the helping me understand the feed prices. I had no idea the growing season was 12 months. I will inform the Dallasites I know!



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