- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - It came slow and thick like molasses down a metal tube.

Daron Babcock grinned as the concrete surrounded a metal oil field pipe staked in the ground.

“It’s actually happening,” said Babcock, as he held up his phone to snap a photo. “I spend so much time planning, talking and begging that when things actually happen, it’s like Christmas Day.”

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1V6zn7q ) reports work began this week on construction of an entryway to the 18 acres where Babcock plans to expand the Bonton Farm endeavor. Eventually, a hanging sign reading “Bonton Farm Extension” will mark the spot.

For Babcock, the work is a stamp of legitimacy.

Months earlier, Fred Treffinger offered to donate the parcel to Babcock, who started the original Bonton Farm in South Dallas through the Christian ministry H.I.S. BridgeBuilders. The new land is across the street from a concrete plant Treffinger owns and about 12 miles southeast from Bonton - a neighborhood food desert with a gritty past.

The farm expansion means the possibility of more food, more jobs and more opportunities for volunteers.

The current Bonton farm - more of an urban garden - covers roughly an acre at the southern end of Bexar Street.

Babcock and others are in a race to ready the new land by spring. The open pasture is surrounded by a dense thicket of trees and brush. Blocks of dumped concrete and dead trees litter the rocky soil.

A couple weeks ago, Treffinger and his sons Ben and John began crushing the concrete. They piled the rocks in mounds as tall as trees toward the back of the farm. They spread them in chunks with industrial trucks to make a bumpy road down the center of the acreage. Volunteers came with chainsaws to clear the tree line that covers a stretch of fence. It’s the first step toward making way for a new sturdier one.

“That’s not normal for me - people coming together. People don’t usually just do things for free,” said Pakeebea “Kebe” Cummings as he sat in a truck bed, surveying the work. Cummings, who grew up in Bonton and used to be addicted to drugs and deal them in the neighborhood, is one of the early Bonton farmers and now a discipleship coordinator for BridgeBuilders.

The labor and supplies for the approximate 30,000-foot-long fence and entryway are being financed by Keith Anderson, who runs a tractor and farm auction in East Texas. He met Babcock in January during a tour of the South Dallas farm. Since then, he’s also offered Babcock a barn.

In total, the donation amounts to roughly $68,000 in labor and materials.

“I just wanted to be a part of something good,” Anderson said Tuesday afternoon as his crew worked on the entryway. “I like what (Babcock) is doing with the men.”

Babcock has applied for a grant to help finance the farm’s launch but is still waiting to hear. If it doesn’t come through, he and others will build the extension piece by piece like the South Dallas farm.

He knows people wonder how he’ll do it again. He points to the work that was ongoing Tuesday afternoon. Workers hired by Anderson set the pipes in concrete. The Treffingers operated heavy machines toward the back of the farm, moving brush from the tree line and crushing more concrete blocks.

“So many people ask me how this is going to happen. I have no idea, but look,” said Babcock, opening his arms wide. “Somehow it does, and it kind of gives you hope.”

___

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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