Former Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki has started an organic garden at the Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center in South Dallas. The project aims to give students a place to learn about fruits and vegetables and also give senior citizens who live nearby a garden to use for their own crops.
"We want to grow this throughout the entire parking lot here, and teach the kids about nutrition, about eating healthy, learning to take care of themselves," Nowitzki says.
About a dozen plantar boxes have been set up in a parking lot at the center. Kids are growing fruits and vegetables like broccoli, celery and carrots. They will also decorate the boxes.
Called the "Plants and Paints" program, children will work at the garden on weekends and also decorated the plantar boxes. During the week, staff at the basketball center will maintain the garden.
Nowitzki says the garden aims to help kids gain an interest in nutrition when they are young.
"I probably changed my diet when I was 27, 28. I think it really prolonged my career. It helped me feel better," he says. "I played until I was 40, 41 almost. That wouldn't have been possible without a healthy diet."
In addition to families who live near the center, students from the UNT-Dallas Rising Blazers Community Youth Development Program are participating. Senior citizens have also been allowed to plant fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.
When the fruits and vegetables are harvested, the children will set up a farmers market.
This week, the Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center also hosted a mobile pantry with the North Texas Food Bank called "Center Table Fall Harvest." Pappas Restaurants provided vouchers for 350 families to receive a turkey for the holidays. Center Table Fall Harvest is scheduled to continue in November and December.