Bonton Farms Breaks Ground on Community Wellness Center
Category: Building Community
Written By: Chris Libby
Date: December 14, 2023
Access to basic resources for better health and well-being is often a challenge for those who live in underserved communities. This is especially true for the historic Bonton neighborhood in South Dallas. Bonton Farms, a nonprofit urban farm, is transforming lives in this area that has been a desert to nutritious food for decades.
What started as a bountiful small garden with the intent to feed the hungry, Bonton Farms has grown into a thriving center of dignity and self-sufficiency for many in the neighborhood. As the mission of Bonton Farms expands, so does the need to help people in all areas of their lives, including healthcare.
On Thursday, December 7, 2023, local leaders in both the public and private sectors joined the staff of Bonton Farms for the groundbreaking of a new community Wellness Center that will usher in a new era of health and opportunity in South Dallas.
Located on an undeveloped patch of land at the corner of Carlton Garrett Street and Samoa Avenue, the center is projected to serve more than 400 residents per year in the historic Bonton neighborhood and surrounding areas with holistic healthcare, financial services, and access to healthy food.
“Our neighbors are suffering from more than just food insecurity. This community is in need of holistic health, and we are overjoyed that they will not only be able to access it, but this community will be able to be transformed due to the healing that will occur.” — Bonton Farms President Gabe Madison
A Winning Strategy for Well-Being
Bonton Farms President Gabe Madison opened the ceremony by expressing her excitement to the crowd about this long-awaited day that will bring unprecedented change to the Bonton community and surrounding areas.
“We at Bonton Farms are more than just a farm,” she said. “Our neighbors are suffering from more than just food insecurity. This community is in need of holistic health, and we are overjoyed that they will not only be able to access it, but this community will be able to be transformed due to the healing that will occur.”
The Wellness Center is a joint project between Bonton Farms and Parkhill. The 11,000 square foot facility will be literally and figuratively designed to treat the mind, body, and soul of residents who need care. With community partners such as Methodist Community Collaborative, Baylor Scott & White, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Texas Capital Bank, and many more, the multifunctional facility will be the epicenter of health and well-being in Bonton. Residents will not only be able to get much-needed medical care but access financial resources and receive education for healthier living.
Breaking Barriers for Better Health
According to Executive Director Daron Babcock, Bonton Farms’ mission centers around disrupting unjust systems. They believe that when communities are equipped with the most basic tools, the community will flourish. The new facility, Daron explains, will offer a “holistic approach to health by providing physical, spiritual, mental, and financial health to a community that has suffered far too long without it.”
For Tasha Lee, a local cancer survivor and Bonton Farms team member, the Wellness Center means she will have access to medical care she desperately needs to live a healthy life. During her struggle with end stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she has experienced firsthand the burden of limited options to quality healthcare near her home. She often had to travel long distances just to get the care she needed to survive.
“To know that this wellness center represents and it’s less than a mile from my home, is a blessing,” she said. “Today, by God’s honor and grace, I can stand and say that I am cancer free. And I look forward to the day that I can walk into Bonton Farms Wellness Center and get wellness services.”
Building a Community of Change
Dan Searight, AIA, LEED AP, a senior architect Parkhill’s Community Practice, has been involved with furthering the mission of Bonton Farms since 2020 and has worked to secure pro bono services for this project. Over the years, he has contributed architectural, master planning, and urban planning design expertise. He also participated in brainstorming for solutions that will bring real change to the Bonton neighborhood.
“Our mission is Building Community and what better way to walk the walk and give back then by designing a facility like the Wellness Center,” Dan said.
Parkhill has partnered with Bonton Farms by offering pro bono design services—which Dan was instrumental in securing for this project—as part of the Building Community Investment program. Since its inception in 2013, the BCI program has given back more than $3 million in grants, pro bono services, employee match donations, and more to the communities they serve. The real gift in giving is the purpose, meaning and happiness that these acts of kindness bring to everyone involved.
“I received so much more than I gave,” Dan said. “Back when I began with the community, it was a way to understand Dallas and help a friend with his involvement in the community. I met some great folks and was able to give back using my skills as a planner and architect and, of course, to help out the members of this great South Dallas community.”
The 11,000 square-foot Wellness Center will serve the local Bonton Community by offering primary medical care as well as education in wellness and financial well-being.
Tasha Lee, a resident in the Bonton Community and cancer survivor, will have much-needed access to medical care just steps from her home.
Bonton Farms is a nonprofit urban farm that is redefining the Bonton Community in South Dallas. Fresh food grown on the farm can be purchased at the Farmers Market, Market Café, and Coffee House.
Parkhill Senior Architect Dan Searight, Bonton Farms President Gabe Madison, Parkhill Project Manager Shahnaz Talukder, and Parkhill Architect Salvador Sanchez at the groundbreaking for Bonton Farms’ new community Wellness Center.