Neighborhood resident Donelle Simmons sometimes drives a 1985 Dodge pickup with no air conditioning and a door that occasionally swings open without warning. “It’s a beating,” she says of the truck. But it’s also fun. This Dodge is not just a truck, it’s a farm. Simmons and her mom, Marilyn Simmons, operate DFW Truck Farm, a nonprofit educational service to teach the public, and children especially, about nutrition and growing food. The truck bed contains a miniature garden: a row of chard, spinach, melons, heirloom tomatoes and a little ladybug farm. This past school year, the DFW Truck Farm made 64 trips, visiting schools, fairs and other events in Dallas and all over the surrounding area. The mother-daughter team also runs a for-profit business, Garden Inspirations, teaching private gardening lessons. About a year and a half ago, Donelle was working as an assistant at Sewell Cadillac when she got a call from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Truck Farm, asking her to create one in Dallas. She decided to quit her job and devote herself full-time to the family gardening business so that she would have time to operate the truck farm. They started with a grant from Truck Farm to buy their original truck and do some planting. Since then, they’ve moved on to the Dodge, which cost $1,500. They do some fundraising, such as the Truck Farm 5k run this past spring, and they are seeking sponsorships for the farm, but some of the funds to keep it going come out of their own pockets. “To do the farm how we really want to do it would cost about $18,000 a year,” Donelle says. This coming school year, she would like to focus on just one school during the fall term, if she can find a teacher who is interested in gardening, and then move on to a different school in the spring. “I think that will have a bigger impact than visiting a different school every week. If we can get kids to learn about food and where it comes from, then maybe we can overcome some of the food issues we have in our society,” she says. “And it’s fun.”
Learn more at dfwtruckfarm.com.