On the football field of Paul Quinn College, rows of vegetables have replaced goal posts and yard lines. PBS NewsHour reports that in 2007, the historically black college in downtown Dallas traded its football program for a student-run organic farm. Now, students work on the farm to pay their tuition, growing thousands of pounds of fresh veggies each year in order to keep surrounding neighborhoods fed and the school funded.
According to the PBS NewsHour video below, in the early 2000s it became clear that Paul Quinn College was struggling both financially and academically. By cutting the school’s football program and starting the farm, college president Michael Sorrell aimed to reduce athletic expenditures, provide students with real-world work experience, and generate income for the school.
All Paul Quinn students now work 150 hours on the farm to fulfill their work tuition, raising organic vegetables that are sold to area restaurants, as well as to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. The college also donates 10 percent of its produce to residents in need in the surrounding community, which is situated in an area of Dallas with few grocery stores and limited access to fresh food.
According to Sorrell, swapping football for fruits and veggies transformed Paul Quinn College for the better. “There’s more than one field of dreams," he told PBS. "Why should we tie everyone’s future to athletic success?"
He later added, "I think this has saved our school. It saved it because it changed the narrative of the institution.”
[h/t PBS NewsHour]
Banner Image Credit: PBS NewsHour, YouTube