Elmwood Farm officially has a new home near Tyler Station.
The urban farm—which former D dining critic Eve Hill-Agnus dubbed “The Little Garden That Could”— previously lived in Oak Cliff on the corner of Ferndale Avenue and Balboa Drive. It began as a community garden, a way to pay homage to chicken coops and homegrown vegetables. It found success here, attracting volunteers from the neighborhood and a partnership with Methodist Health System. But its former landlord declined to renew its lease in downtown Elmwood, choosing instead to make more money using the land to store work trucks.
Andrew Cagle, a founding member of Elmwood Farm, says that moving from the humble downtown setting to the Tyler Station social hub comes with perks. “It’s located in a little quieter and safer spot,” says Cagle. “I think we want it to be a place of rest in a lot of ways.”
A physically larger space is an obvious plus for the Elmwood team as they upgrade from less than an acre, but Cagle believes the surrounding businesses will also drive traffic toward the urban farm. Tyler Station once housed the Dixie Wax Paper Company but has since been redesigned as a mixed-use hub for over a dozen small businesses. It’s anchored by a coworking space and a brewery, but also includes a variety of other businesses: a barber shop, a bookstore, a bike shop, a production company, a bakery, artist studios, a pet store, and other concepts. It’s also located next to the Tyler/Vernon DART light rail stop.
“Walking into the space everyone felt invigorated and excited,” says Cagle. “It was kind of a new energy and motivation.”
A big step in the process to get Elmwood Farm up and running at full speed is achieving its 501(c)(3) status, which allows nonprofit organizations to raise money. With the hope of hosting community classes and events in the future, there is no shortage of development opportunities. But those need funding.
“It’s a much larger space, so the maintenance and development are going to be significant,” says Cagle.
Apart from the administrative odds and ends, the Elmwood team is also seeking to expand within leadership and recruitment. “There’s going to be more to offer in terms of ways to get involved between Elmwood and Oak Cliff,” Cagle says.
The Elmwood Farm group is hoping to launch programming and farming operations by the spring or summer of 2023. Until then, Oak Cliff can expect fundraising events in partnership with local Dallas chefs to support the community garden. “This summer we want to cast a vision for what the space can potentially be,” says Cagle.
Community and growth are staples when it comes to Elmwood Farm’s values, but the intention also goes deeper. A large hope for Cagle and his team is that the urban farm can educate people on the benefits of community farming and healthy eating.
“We want people to come into the space and rethink their relationship to food,” says Cagle. “We want people to fully rethink natural systems.”