Why One College Converted Their Football Field Into a Farm

Only 250 students attend Paul Quinn College in Dallas, making it a small, intimate, and very cozy learning environment. It’s also not the kind of school that really needs a football field, thanks to the small student body and the fact that football-oriented students have lots of schools to choose from. So when the administration decided to shut down the football field, despite complaints, the decision went forward and students were forced to adapt.

Fortunately, football was replaced with something even cooler in a rather bold remodeling move. While the goal posts remain, the high-maintenance field has been replaced by an organic farm overflowing with fresh veggies, some of which are sold to the neighboring community, while others end up in the local food pantry and the school cafeteria. It’s a fantastic example of adapting energy-hogging landscaping (turf is very maintenance-heavy and needs a great deal of watering) to a more ecologically friendly use.

The school isn’t leaving farm management to outsiders, either. Instead, it’s integrating the farm into the curriculum, encouraging students to get involved on multiple levels with active work on the farm, management of contracts with clients who buy the produce, and studies of biology, soil science, and more on the grounds. It’s safe to say this Dallas gardening initiative has been a major success.

Sweet potatoes, herbs, kale, mustard, turnips, tomatoes, cilantro, and more cover the former football field, while a chicken coop allows students to learn about small livestock management. One of the farm’s biggest clients is actually the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which buys a variety of ingredients for use in foods like fresh salsas.

Paul Quinn is located in an area officially tagged as a food desert, and many students at this historically Black college qualify for financial assistance and struggle to meet costs while in school. Providing a source of fresh food is a positive step for community relations, and the garden also offers employment: for $10 an hour, students can work on the farm, acquire skills, and get some produce as well. The system is a brilliant replacement for a costly program that the college couldn’t afford to sustain, much though administrators and students might have wished.

The decision to turn to organic farming turned out to be a sound one. In addition to eliminating the expensive program, the farm actually brought in money; now it earns six figures annually, funding scholarships and other needs at the school. Farming at the WE Over Me plot brought back Paul Quinn from the brink of financial ruin, and it’s changed the way the college interacts with the community as well as the way students learn and engage with the environment. Some might argue that’s a pretty good price to pay for a football program.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com. This article originally appeared here.

Photo: USDA/Flickr.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola1 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog1 years ago

Fantastic idea - thanks for sharing!

Andrew Pawley
Past Member 1 years ago

A great example for others to follow.

Carole H.
Carole H.2 years ago

great idea - a much better use of the land - could we not do it to all football fields please ..... lol

Monique R.
Monique R.2 years ago

Very clever idea for the whole community! And there are always other places for football fans!

Shanti S.
S S.2 years ago

Thank you.

Elaine Al Meqdad
Elaine Al Meqdad2 years ago

Great Idea...But next on the roster...MOST Definitely by getting read those gulf Course!

Tom Tree
Tom Tree2 years ago

ONE Down, Thousands to go !!

Ana R.
Ana R2 years ago

Love the idea! Kudos.:)

Anna G.
Anna G.2 years ago