Mountain View College's Slow Food Garden, which features 40 beds, will be open for leasing by the community following the ribbon cutting Aug. 21. Photos courtesy of Mountain View College.

July 30, 2014

By Penelope Taylor

Organizers of Mountain View College's new community garden say they want to create a "healthy food oasis in a hurried fast food world."

According to Lori De La Cruz, sustainability coordinator for Mountain View College, the completion of their new Slow Food Community Garden is the start of making that dream come true. 

“I’ve been so looking forward to this garden,” said De La Cruz, in Dallas. “It’s going to be an outdoor learning space, a neighborhood teaching opportunity and a place for our students to gain hands-on experience in multiple disciplines.” 

Sustainability coordinator Lori De La Cruz is thrilled about the new community garden at Mountain View College.

The community garden has been funded by a $28,824 grant from Wells Fargo, through their Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities Grant Program.

Mountain View College was one of three Dallas-Fort Worth environmental nonprofits that received monies from the program, which supports projects focused on land and water conservation, energy efficiency, infrastructure and educational outreach in communities across America. 

A ribbon cutting for the Slow Food Community Garden will be held Aug. 21. Located on the west side of the campus, the 40-bed garden will grow food organically, without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. There will be handicap accessible beds and a walkway at the front of the garden close to handicapped parking.

Below, a three-part composting bin system.  

Among the topics that will be taught in the garden: composting, water conservation and management, nutrition and cooking, air quality, art and photography, as well as math, business and economics. The college will also host community workshops throughout the year that will include: how to raise food, cooking, nutrition and rainwater harvesting.

De La Cruz points out that the garden is really about accessibility for the community as well as a resource for students and faculty. It will be the first Dallas County Community College District garden that is open to the public for leasing.

“Because the college is located in a food desert, the garden will be a place for interested people in the community to learn where their food comes from and how it’s grown,” said De La Cruz.

The college serves the urban, suburban and industrial communities in the southwest quadrant of the city of Dallas and the cities of Cedar Hill, Duncanville and Grand Prairie. De La Cruz recalls talking with neighborhood children who thought vegetables came only from the supermarket. The garden will offer local students the opportunity to connect to their food’s roots – literally, with nearby Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary and Moises E. Molina High School students invited to use the facility.  

Mountain View College is one of seven individually-accredited institutions in the Dallas County Community College District. DCCCD enrolls approximately 83,000 credit and 25,000 continuing education students each year. It’s one of the largest community college districts in the U.S. 

As the full time sustainability coordinator at the school, De La Cruz is overseeing the development of an extensive Living Labs project at Mountain View. Future plans include adding a freestanding outdoor classroom, laboratory and an aquaponics garden where plants will be grown with water and fish waste. 

Right, a gazebo offers shade for gardeners.

“Because food is so integral to life, this is an excellent way to capture attention and begin to teach sustainability practices,” says De La Cruz.  

Ten plots in the garden will be available for faculty/staff members and 24 plots will be leased to interested members of the community for a nominal fee. 

“We believe strongly that part of our role is to serve the community where we are located," she said. "This garden is an important and exciting development for Mountain View and we are ready to cut the ribbon and welcome everyone in.”   

For more information on the garden, contact Lori De La Cruz at

 Penelope Taylor is a Dallas-based freelance writer. A native New Yorker, she has called Dallas home for 20 years. Her work has been published in local, regional and national publications, including the Dallas Morning News, Edible DFW, the Texas Jewish Post and others. She is a conscious eater, diligent recycler, composter and an avid but not very accomplished gardener. Penelope is passionate about making a difference to the future of our planet and sharing the myriad ways that people are making a difference today. 

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