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From Football to Veggies and Fruit

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Zucchini and Okra on the 50-Yard Line

By Julie Tam
May 5, 2010

From football to cucumbers and okra, Paul Quinn College in southern Dallas has turned its former gridiron into an urban farm.

Just months after losing and then regaining its accreditation because of financial problems, Paul Quinn College is planting new seeds. The college is giving its students sustainable skills, teaching the basics of farming and the complexities of running a business that sells produce.

“I know there’s food shortages and people are suffering from food problems and obesity and all that,” said student Atsu Atakpa. “All the things that we are going to be doing on the farm is going to go a long way to benefit not just the community around, but the whole of Texas.”

Students sell a steady crop to restaurants and donate 10 percent to low-income neighbors.

“If you love something greater than yourself, you do what you can to help,” said Atakpa, a freshman computer science major.

Atakpa leads the 16-member farm team of students who will work through the summer toward their first harvest.

The seeds they plant will grow into something bigger. Paul Quinn College said it will develop a curriculum and degree called Social Entrepreneurship that will involve all aspects of running the farm.

The farm is sponsored by PepsiCo and is the company’s second initiative since starting its Food for Good project last year.

“Sustainable businesses that can address nutrition in a really holistic way and support local job creation and economic development in the process can help transform health and wellness both at an individual and a community level,” said Amy Chen, Food for Good project manager.

See the story here.