Big Tex Urban Farms, a signature program of the State Fair of Texas, donated one million servings of fresh produce to the local community. After the goal was announced in 2018, the Fair has made that goal a reality in less than four years. They have donated 1,000,000 produce servings to the South Dallas community for their neighbors in need.
Big Tex Urban Farms has grown substantially since its humble beginnings in 2016. When it first started, it consisted of 100 raised planter boxes in a parking lot near the State Fair of Texas’ administration building. They would give out food at a local farmers market on Fridays. Now, it encompasses the entire Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the State Fair of Texas Midway in Fair Park. It’s here where the Farms’ revolutionary mobile hydroponic agriculture systems, including a Nutrient Film Technique system (NFT), grow racks, and a gutter slab system, grow everything from arugula, cucumbers, kohlrabi, micro-greens, peppers, soy, tomatoes, and zucchini.
State Fair of Texas Gives Back
As part of the State Fair of Texas’ efforts to give back to South Dallas, all the food produced by Big Tex Urban Farms is donated to organizations serving the surrounding communities. They include Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Institute at the Juanita J. Craft Community Center, Bonton Farms, CitySquare, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Faith Cumberland Presbyterian Church, FJV Foundation, Jubilee Park Community Center, Oak Cliff Veggie Project, Parkland Hospital, POETIC, The Bridge, and TR Hoover Community Development Corporation.
The organizations collect and distribute the produce grown by Big Tex Urban Farms. Many of these neighborhoods are designated by the USDA as areas with limited access to fresh food. Food deserts are low-income areas with limited access to personal vehicles or public transit and no grocery stores within a mile.
Big Tex Urban Farms
The program has also helped establish dozens of community gardens in the neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park, like the garden at Oak Cliff Veggie Project, Cornerstone Baptist, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Another piece of the Farms’ educational programming is working with local culinary programs—donating produce and herbs—that teach job skills to folks from all walks of life.
The Big Tex Urban Farms team had to overcome several obstacles on the road to achieving one million servings donated. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide freeze in February 2021 provided plenty of setbacks. But Big Tex Urban Farms continued to plow forward. They plan to continue growing and investing in Big Tex Urban Farms as a year-round signature community program.
Your annual visit to the State Fair of Texas – the nonprofit Fair’s largest fundraiser of the year – helps fund Big Tex Urban Farms. For more information on the Farms and how to get involved, please visit BigTex.com/BTUF. Be sure to visit the Errol McKoy Greenhouse at the 2022 State Fair of Texas Midway, opening Sept. 30 and running through Oct. 23.