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Bonton, Take 2

Recently, I visited Bonton Farms again (for the original blog post on Bonton, click here). In the last seven months, a lot has changed; I feel like I’ve been swept under the feet!

This time, our (HPHS Student Council’s) visit was much more organized; the farm has been absorbed by a church organization, and this Saturday was called “Restoration Saturday,” in which some regulars split a group of around 70 sleepy volunteers to walk the goats, clean out the pigpens, lay out hay for the upcoming winter in the barn, and harvest the vegetables, which were sold to local chefs. I chose to help out with plucking leafy greens under the direction of our fearless team leader, who owns a farm!

Much has changed; there are now turkeys (!!), wall art was added, and covers for the garden were put up. Even in the garden itself, there seemed to be more plants ready to harvest; months before, the sea of green was merely a plot of dirt. It’s refreshing to see some positive change, especially in this food desert; I can’t wait to see the effects felt years after I stepped onto this farm.

While I was working in the garden, I talked to a radiologist who accompanied her son on this service opportunity; chatting with a doctor (and kale connoisseur) for this future doctor was pretty cool. She was very agile, quick-minded, and inquisitive–character traits I’d like to develop more in 2016! Working with her, her son, and our team leader, we made our way through the aisles quickly, sampling a few plants along the way; the mustard green-collard green hybrid exploded my mouth and nose with spice, a sensation I’ll never forget.

In the very beginning of the day, the coordinator Darren told us that we were to leave Bonton with a new relationship built–it doesn’t matter what else one did (or did not do), everyone was to make a new friend by the end of the day. Needless to say, I think I accomplished that task!

After the “day” of service ended, we headed to the rec center down the street, which functioned as the community living room. All the children were in the gym, playing basketball or football or making Christmas crafts. The adults were starting to eat lunch, and laughter filled the air. As each member was to donate a toy, StuCo amassed a roomful of toys for the local children, who will receive these presents in a special Christmas Day dinner. I wish all of them and my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-MX

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A Golden Experience

Well, I haven’t blogged in about a month, and I thus apologize! School has been really catching me by the tail, and I will try to make up for my absence in the next week or so.

Last Saturday, my high school invited all alumni who have graduated for at least 50 years to come back to Dallas for a reunion. The old folks were supposed to arrive at around 9:30, and lunch was served at 11, but many started trickling in a hour in advance! The main competition gym was adorned with an exhibit showcasing the school’s history, evolution, and ultimate growth. As there were enough people starting to come, I had the privilege of leading the tour around the school. Many of my guests were well-mannered and made jokes at a pace faster than they could walk–I couldn’t outwit a man 50 years my senior! In fact, the wittiest of them all was the salutatorian of her class! Showing around her and her friends, whom she bumped into, made this experience unforgettable.

Oh my, has ol’ High Park High changed! The students used to be served lunch, ate in the small cafeteria, and headed on to the auditorium (untouched since the 50s) for some postprandial conversations. There were much fewer students, with the average class size of around 430; the high school also only accommodated three grades– sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I’m sure that if these alumni were to visit their beloved high school during passing periods, they would run away in fear of being trampled upon. Those were the golden days…

I enjoyed the tour so much that I took too long–lines were already forming for the fried and roasted chicken and various sides available. During this time, I had no opportunity to rest and continued to serve everyone, even the oldest of the class of 1937. My main job was to refill all the water and tea placed on each table. All of the graduates looked radiant, with florid cheeks glowing in enthusiasm, hearts filled with joy, stomachs full of chicken. 

   After some time, the HP Alumni Foundation president gave a short speech (the perspiration was unbelievable), and Park Version, HP’s elite choir group of around 15 members, sang three songs, including one by the Beach Boys that tugged some tears and elicited the nostalgia that permeated the cafeteria.

If the foundation president is right, then our school district is the only one in Texas or even the nation that conducts such an event. I do hope that I will be able to make this reunion… in 2068!

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Bonton Farms 

Hey, guys!

Today, with the rest of the StuCo family (who I don’t know too well), I visited a community farm in SE Dallas, one of many “food deserts” in the nation– an urban area in which there are almost no grocery stores or sources of fresh fruits and vegetables. With the help of a $30 mil. federal grant, the neighborhood of Bonton has been transformed; nearly 1300 people have moved into new developments (as seen in the background of the first two pictures), and two lovely fellas, Darren and Regina, helped start this community garden. There is also a new recreation and civic center within walking distance of Bonton Farm-Works that offers a space for events and an after-school program.

There were college students and local young adults watering the crops on such a hot day! It’s evident that everyone in the community appreciates the garden and its positive ripples, the “good vibes” felt throughout the neighborhood. Every few days, the children come to Bonton Farm-Works to help water the plants and, more importantly, feed the animals. Although we did not meet any of those children today, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to observe such positive synergy in a quickly-improving part of town!

The produce includes Swiss chard, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, and many herbs. All of the harvested plants and eggs are sold each week at the White Rock Farmers Market. Click on the farm’s Facebook page to learn more.

Now time for some pictures!

BELOW: Some lovely goats and dogs! Many adults brought along their children to see the goats and chickens (which you will see later).BELOW: This one’s my favorite!  BELOW: Chickens (around 200 of them)! These are able to roam freely throughout the day and are actually heritage-breed, not the kind that lays eggs in closed warehouses for shipment to large supermarket chains. A chicken at Bonton take 25 hours to lay an egg, and by the time they are mature, the farm should collect 8 to 9 dozen eggs A DAY (compared to 17 dozen a week now). 

Proud to be here! Thanks for the fulfilling weekend and best wishes, Bonton!  

~MX