Written by Phil Cerroni
DFW truck farm pays visit to Coppell’s Farmers Market
By Sissy Courtney
According to a 2007 census, America has over two million truck farms, but it has only has 30 farms in a truck. Texas has only one farm in a truck, the DFW Truck Farm, and it showed up at Kids Day at Coppell’s Farmers Market Oct. 20 straight from the State Fair, where it was part of Texas Discovery Gardens.
Marilyn Simmons and daughter Donelle Simmons of Waxahachie are called The Farm Girls on their radio gardening show, and they own and operate the DFW Truck Farm.
“If you can garden in the bed of a truck, you can garden anywhere,” Donelle said. “The soil in the truck is made up of expanded shell, molasses, enriched soil and mushroom compost. The membrane is like the material they use in rooftop gardening to control the water.”
Holes in the bed of the truck for drainage keep the truck from rusting. A Dripping Springs ollas waters the plants.
“It’s like an urn, and you burry it down and fill it up with water,” Donelle said. “When it is cool, it takes a week for it to run out; in the summer, we have to fill it up about every two days.”
Growing in the bed of the truck were Swiss chard, sage, thyme, radishes, sorrel, fennel, garlic, chives, spinach, lavender, eggplant, mint and parsley.
“When we go to schools I let the students plant the radishes, so when we go back a month later, they can see that the radishes are growing,” Donelle said.
Last year they visited 60 schools, but this year they have changed the program.
“Now we go to each school three times: once to talk about the truck farm and plant something,” Donelle said. “Then, we go back and bring a farmer, and then we go back with a chef and cook something from the truck. We aren’t able to cover as many schools, but it makes a greater impact, rather than just sending them home with some mint to plant, which really doesn’t mean anything to them.”
A representative of the Art Institute, Le Cordon Bleu from Dallas, and the American Culinary Federation joined in the excitement to present a scavenger hunt for the kids. They gave kids foods from colors of the rainbow: red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow squash, green spinach and purple grapes.
“They taste each one, figure out what color each one is, put it into a category, and then they have to go around the Farmer’s Market and find a fruit or vegetable of each color,” said Toni Slone from the Art Institute. “When they fill in three of each category or as many as they can find, they come back and we give them ranch dip for their veggies, seeds to grow veggies at home with their parents, and we give them kiwis because most kids don’t try them because they’re brown and fuzzy and they don’t look appetizing. We like to give them that, so they get something surprising in the end and learn to eat something new.
Free face painting was available for the children, and they could buy kid-sized portions of fruits and vegetables from the vendors.