FORT WORTH — The allure of homegrown heirloom tomatoes and fond memories of a grandparent’s garden often lead many people to give gardening a try.
But a lot of folks give up after a season of Texas’s unpredictable weather, the largest green caterpillars you’ve ever seen, or unproductive but luscious tomato plants.
That is where Tina Arons and her husband Austin Caraway come in to attempt to coax the most reluctant gardener with delicious concoctions from their own garden — from salsas and green tomato relishes to peach jalapeño jams and blackberry lemongrass kombucha.
Urban farming has grown in popularity over the last decade but many people don’t know where to start, Arons said. Or they have given it a try without enough success to want to keep going.
“Sometimes the problems are easy to fix but the main component missing is a network of other gardeners to help troubleshoot,” Arons said.
With the help of her husband, she started Farming the Sprawl in 2014 to create momentum for a local urban farming and homesteading movement.
“I believe gardening is the key to creating healthy, active and happy lives,” she said. “My goal is to make getting started as easy as possible.”
Arons has taught classes throughout Fort Worth in connection to other local groups as well, including the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the Fort Worth Botanical Garden and Elizabeth Anna’s Urban Farm.
Now she offers free classes through Farming the Sprawl to teach people in her community various aspects of farm life: backyard chicken keeping, canning and preserving, container gardening and more. Her husband shares his own knowledge as well, including how to assemble a rainwater harvest system, build raised garden beds, and ferment kombucha.
Anyone interested in learning more can follow their Facebook page for upcoming events or keep up with the blog on .
"In a time in which we never truly know where our food comes from or what's done to it, and in which we are becoming less and less connected with the things that bring us life,” Austin said, “it is more important than ever to dig our fingers in the soil and help everything grow.”
Tina Arons is a high school English teacher and farming activist in Fort Worth. She grew up on a ranch in the Hill Country but currently lives with her husband and four stepchildren in a quiet suburban neighborhood. With her husband Austin Caraway, she helped create an ever-expanding mini farm in the backyard.