Nonprofit Plant it Forward recovering from freeze as it marks 10 years

Plant It Forward’s urban farms offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plant It Forward’s urban farms offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Plant It Forward’s urban farms offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

With temperatures down to 13 degrees amid the February winter storm—the coldest Houston has experienced since 1989—farms in and around the area were severely affected.

That includes a network of independent urban farms run by the nonprofit Plant It Forward, which works with Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement office and Urban Harvest to provide refugees with agricultural backgrounds with housing and training.

Plant It Forward, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in April, lost about 75% of its crops in the freeze.

“It was pretty devastating, but it’s not nearly as bad as what we’re hearing coming out of the [Rio Grande] Valley and places like that,” Plant It Forward President Liz Vallette said. “To be honest, I thought we would lose more.”

Plant It Forward managed to save some of its carrots along with a portion of its tender greens, even without greenhouses. The key to that was extensive preparation, covering some crops with frost cloth and harvesting others ahead of time. In addition, more donations have come in to help cover what was lost and to allow the nonprofit to apply for grants to help the farmers buy new seeds and plants.


The farms in the network sell produce at several local farmers markets, but most important to their rebound, according to Vallette, is the Farm Share program, a community-supported model in which customers pay for a certain number of weeks of produce—in good times and in bad. This model represents a majority of sales and pays the farmers’ salaries.

In total, Farm Share goes to over 20 neighborhood pickup locations and delivers to over 30 ZIP codes every week.

“It’s incredible to see the generosity of people and that they are OK with paying for nothing so long as they know their farmer is being compensated and is working as hard as they can to get the farms back up to production,” Vallette said.

Plant It Forward

4030 Willowbend Blvd., Houston

713-432-0754

https://plantitforward.farm
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.