The State Fair of Texas and Big Tex Urban Farms harvested and donated more than 26,000 pounds of food in 2020. This meant over 295,000 servings of fresh produce were donated to nine organizations in the Fair Park and South Dallas communities. Since starting the farms in 2016, the State Fair has donated more than 688,000 total servings.
Big Tex Urban Farms never stopped operating in 2020, despite the pandemic. In response to the crisis, the Farms adjusted harvest and donation procedures, adding safety protocols so the State Fair could continue to serve the community in their time of need. Safety protocols include workers wearing masks and gloves, socially distancing, updating contactless donation procedures, and shifting to virtual instead of in-person tours.
“Even with the challenges from the pandemic, our team was able to harvest and donate even more food to the community – up 25% from prior year,” said Drew Demler, director of horticulture at the State Fair of Texas. “Early on when the pandemic began and everyone was asked to stay at home, grocery stores and pantries were at a loss, so we knew our contributions were more important than ever.”
Big Tex Urban Farms
The Fair’s Big Tex Urban Farms is an urban agriculture project, located on the State Fair of Texas Midway in Fair Park. The Farms are comprised of hydroponic growing systems and outdoor planting beds. One hundred percent of the produce is donated to local community organizations. Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Institute at the Juanita J. Craft Community Center, Jubilee Park Community Center, TR Hoover Community Development Corporation, and CitySquare are recipients.
The Farms’ impact spans across the global agricultural community, and have become a destination for organizations from around the world. They hope to learn how to produce high-yielding fruits and vegetables in urban environments. As industry leaders, the Farms have also been asked to speak at various conferences like the Oxford Farming Conference in England.
“The Big Tex Urban Farms initiative has brought valuable opportunities to the South Dallas area,” said Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew, vice president of community affairs & strategic alliances for the State Fair of Texas. “Not only are the Farms providing food for a community located in a food desert, the cooking classes and educational opportunities accompanying the Farms help lay the foundation for creating access for South Dallas residents. These partnerships are critical to ensure that the community has the opportunity for healthier food options.”
Visit Farms During Fair
A portion of every ticket bought to the State Fair of Texas benefits Big Tex Urban Farms. For more information please visit BigTex.com/BTUF. Fairgoers can visit Big Tex Urban Farms during the 2021 State Fair of Texas, (September 24 through October 17).
The State Fair of Texas celebrates all things Texan by promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment. The nonprofit organization helps to preserve and improve Fair Park; underwrite museums, community initiatives, and scholarship programs. Visit BigTex.com for more information.