In 2014, Bonton Farms owner Daron Babcock started the urban farm to bring healthy food and jobs to South Dallas. The farm's success allowed it to expand to add a restaurant, coffee shop and farmers market.
And now, nine years later, Babcock wants to create a second location, named Bonton Village, at a 12-acre site at 12000 Greenville Avenue between Forest Lane and LBJ Freeway.
His vision for the site in Lake Highlands mirrored the current location in South Dallas: a bakery, coffee shop, restaurant, farmhouse and 120 tiny houses. But it's not just about the food or the farm, Babcock said.
"What makes Bonton Farms so innovative is our approach, " Babcock said in a Zoom call with the Economic Development Committee of the Dallas City Council. "We serve men and women coming out of incarceration, homelessness, domestic violence and addiction. In the eight years we've done this, we have not had a single person re-offend."
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The first step of the project would be site acquisition, followed by raising funds for the estimated $15 million for construction.
Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough, District 10 representative whose district includes Lake Highlands, is expected to bring the proposal before the council later this month.
"I have a huge respect for the way in which Bonton and the people associated with Bonton treat and respect people with dignity, " McGough said. "The model for providing individuals with the next reach-able step to make progress is the type of project I think will make an impact in District 10 but also elsewhere. This is the model I think we should be looking at for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Several other city council members expressed their support and for even more growth.
"This isn't just about [District] 10, " council member Tennell Atkins said. "It's about all 14 districts. I believe every district in Dallas needs a site like this ... Every part of the city has a food desert and people who are homeless. People need a place to work, a place to shop and quality food."
In May, the Dallas Morning News reported that Bonton Farms in South Dallas might only have a few months left of life in it due to the coronavirus pandemic. But donations, including a $75,000 contribution from Mark Cuban, will sustain the business for six or seven more months, according to the Dallas Morning News.