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Small Places Transitions to a 501(c)(3) as its East End Urban Farm, Finca Tres Robles, Pauses Field Operations to Prepare for Move to Long-Sought Permanent Home

Small Places Transitions to a 501(c)(3) as its East End Urban Farm, Finca Tres Robles, Pauses Field Operations to Prepare for Move to Long-Sought Permanent Home

One of Houston’s longest-serving urban farms, Finca Tres Robles, is getting ready for some big changes in the year ahead. Umbrella organization Small Places is transitioning to a 501(c)(3) to help revamp the farm and increase its impact in serving the East End community. In the months ahead, Finca Tres Robles will be celebrating 7.5 years of work in the East End as it pauses field operations at the end of 2021 to prepare for its next chapter.

About Umbrella Organization Small Places

Small Places Co-Founder Tommy Garcia-Prats explains, “Most people know us as Finca Tres Robles, but before ‘Finca,’ we founded Small Places with the goal of starting and running multiple urban farms around Houston. Finca became the first ‘small place’ and our proof of concept. It was never meant to be our only urban farm, but the first of many. Our mission at Small Places is to nurture a culture of health in our communities to renew the bond between people, place and food. We develop farms as foundational health infrastructure to upend systemic inequalities at the neighborhood level. We want to find practical answers to the challenges the individuals, families, homes and blocks of our immediate neighborhood face every day.”

Urban farming is Small Places’ tool to do just that. Their goal is to take land that typically just gets mowed and transform it into a permanent place of production, learning, employment, gathering and inspiration. They invest in small, community-focused solutions as the pathway to realizing larger structural change. For the last seven years, co-founders and brothers Tommy, Daniel and Mark Garcia-Prats have been committed to making Finca Tres Robles a place of change for Houston’s East End.

Small Places Transitions to 501(c)(3) to Increase Impact

Since 2014, Small Places has operated as a small business. The decision to shift to a 501(c)(3) organization stems from the desire to positively impact more Houstonians. 

“While it hasn’t changed our mindset or approach, it allows us to access additional grants and fundraising opportunities to upgrade facilities, increase food accessibility, improve food affordability and expand our educational programs. And eventually, it will allow us to develop multiple urban farms. Moreover, a committed board of directors will continue to help us move forward in our vision for growth,” states Daniel Garcia-Prats. 

More than Food at Finca Tres Robles

Located on a once-empty lot in Houston’s Second Ward, Finca Tres Robles has been serving area families and individuals for the past seven and a half years with fresh produce from their own land plus staples like eggs, meat and more from other area farms. Through weekend farm stands, community distributions and their weekly farm-share programs, Finca serves around 150 families each week. As a part of the Double Up Food Bucks Program, they not only accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but SNAP users get matching dollars to help their benefits go even further. Additionally, through pick-it-yourself experiences, educational and volunteer opportunities and community events, the farm has become a dynamic part of the vibrant East End community and culture.

Like everyone, COVID-19 shifted a lot for the farm. When restaurants began to shut down in March of 2020, Finca transitioned from selling only produce grown on the farm to becoming a purchaser and outlet for other farms and farmers. Thanks to partnerships with the Houston Food Bank, the Common Market Texas and area farmers, by the summer of 2020 Finca went from serving 100 households a week to serving between 250-300 households per week, with roughly a quarter of those households being seniors and families in the East End in need of assistance. In fact, Tommy was recognized by Discovery Green as one of Houston’s “Unsung Heroes” for the farm’s response to the pandemic. 

“Farming is about people just as much as it is about plants,” Daniel adds. “We want our farms to be a part of the fabric of our community and connect with the individuals and families in our community in a real way. Pre-COVID-19, we were hosting over 5,000 visitors a year. Our farm became a place to have fun, to learn, to work, to be curious, to get the best produce, to share meals, and to meet new people in person. During COVID, we had to change that, and this became our way to connect.”

Finca Tres Robles Prepares for their New Path in Partnership with Harris County Precinct 2

For the past three years, Small Places has been working with Harris County Precinct 2 and Harris County Engineering Department on an unparalleled partnership to find a long-term home for Finca Tres Robles that will keep them in the community. The end goal of Small Places has always been having permanent land-access so that the organization can fully invest in a farm to support the needs and wants of the area. Having long-term access to land means classrooms, a retail store and a covered pavilion; infrastructure they are able to invest in, allowing them to expand on their normal programming. The end-of-year pause in operations will set the farm up for a permanent move and a larger impact on area neighborhoods.

“We’re close to finalizing the details that will keep us in the East End for the long-term, and we couldn’t be more thankful to Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia and his office for supporting us in this process. It has been a long-time in the making, and I think everyone involved will be proud and excited about the outcome,” says Daniel.

“Finca Tres Robles has been an incredible neighbor to the East End and Precinct 2 Community for over 7 years, and I look forward to continuing to support their initiatives and efforts to bring fresh and nutritious food to our community. I commend Finca Tres Robles for the work they have done and can’t wait to see what else is to come for this community and organization with the new home they will soon have,” adds Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Harris County, Precinct 2.

During the pause in Finca Tres Robles’ field work, the farm will maintain community partnerships and distributions into next year to continue providing fresh produce to area families and seniors who rely on them for their fresh foods every week through their Neighborhood Produce Program. The farm will be able to continue doing this through a partnership with the Common Market Texas.  

Celebrating More Than Seven Years of Finca Tres Robles

These next two months will be a time to celebrate Finca Tres Robles with its community. The farm will host a series of events, “Tres Noches con Tres Robles” to give thanks and offer appreciation for what the land at 257 North Greenwood has given to Houstonians for the past seven and a half years:

  • Farm Potluck on Thursday, December 9, 6 – 9 p.m. – Complimentary but guests must register online and bring a dish to share.
  • Tacos and Beer on Friday, December 10, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. – Featuring tacos catered by Tacos El Nene chefs Sonia and Adrian Hernandez and beer sponsored by Equal Parts Brewing, $45 per person.
  • Farm Dinner on Sunday, December 12, 3 – 7 p.m. – A five course seated dinner by Chef David Cordua of The Lymbar, with beer sponsored by Equal Parts Brewing, $95 per person.

All events are limited in capacity to 80 people. Tickets will be available for purchase on the evening of Friday, November 5 at  

“We’re so grateful to our amazing community which has stood with us through so many growing pains, historic weather events and beautiful gatherings on the farm. It really is a credit to them and their support that our farm has grown so much over the years,” said Tommy. He continues, “We’re counting down the days to share our future plans with our friends, community and supporters in the months ahead and can’t wait to have them join us for what’s next.”

About Small Places

Founded in 2014by brothers Tommy, Dan and Mark Garcia-Plats, Small Places works to nurture a culture of health in their communities to renew the bond between people, place and food.

They develop farms as foundational health infrastructure to upend systemic inequalities at the neighborhood level. They invest in small solutions as the pathway to realizing larger structural change.

Soon to become a non-profit, Small Places, parent company of Finca Tres Robles in Houston’s East End, is working to open multiple urban farms in and around Houston.

Those interested in what’s next for Small Places should follow them on InstagramFacebookTwitter or LinkedIn. To learn more about the company’s mission, vision and more, head to   

About Finca Tres Robles

Small Places’ first farm, Finca Tres Robles, is one of Houston’s only farms inside the 610 Loop, located in the city’s East End just four miles from City Hall. The farm grows herbs, fruits and vegetables to be sold to individuals and families directly from the farm and at area markets, working to make healthy eating accessible and affordable to the immediate East End community as a way to challenge the current food system, build community and keep money in the area’s immediate local economy.

Stay tuned for what’s next at Finca Tres Robles by following their InstagramFacebook or Twitter. Learn more about the farm, the founders and their events and offerings at

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