The East Dallas Community and Market Garden, a project of Gardeners in Community Development (GICD), is the oldest community garden in North Texas. It is located in an area that was once referred to as “Little Asia” where an estimated 10,000 Southeast Asian refugees were resettled in the 1980s.
GICD trains and assists refugees and low income families to use organic methods to grow for their families, and to produce a sufficient amount to donate to neighbors in need and for selling to cover their garden expenses.
Don Lambert, executive director at GICD, explained that “most people, as they move from one country to another, have often brought little samples of seeds, maybe hidden away in pockets here and there that are special to them.”
People would find spaces near their apartment building to plant them, which created conflict with landlords. A coalition of refugees and resettlement agents acquired a plot of land on Fitzhugh Avenue and started the garden in 1987.
Community members grow and sell “heritage vegetables, or heirlooms,” such as Chinese long beans and lemongrass, which have been passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to the garden, these heirloom vegetables are now local to North Texas.
According to Lambert, “There was a kind of organic process going on where a lot of people were going to the Asian garden, and getting seeds and planting materials and learning how to grow those things in backyards across Dallas, not only by the Asian community but by a lot of other people as well.”