Big Tex Urban Farms, a flagship program of the State Fair of Texas, donated one million servings of fresh produce to the local community. After announcing the goal in 2018, the Fair has made this goal a reality in less than four years. They donated 1,000,000 servings of produce to the South Dallas community for their neighbors in need.
Big Tex Urban Farms has grown significantly since its humble beginnings in 2016. In its early days, it consisted of 100 raised beds in a parking lot near the State Fair of Texas administration building. They were distributing 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 that the farms revolutionary mobile hydroponic farming systems, including a Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) system, growing media and a gutter slab system, grow everything from arugula, cucumbers , kohlrabi, microgreens, peppers, soybeans, 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 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 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 products 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 transportation and no grocery store within a mile.
Big Tex Urban Farms
The program has also helped create dozens of community gardens in neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park, such as the Oak Cliff Veggie Project Garden, Cornerstone Baptist, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Another element of farm educational programming is working with local culinary programs—product and herb donations—that teach job skills to people from all walks of life.
The Big Tex Urban Farms team had to overcome several hurdles along the way to reach one million donated servings. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and statewide freeze in February 2021 have caused many setbacks. But Big Tex Urban Farms kept going. They plan to continue to grow and invest in Big Tex Urban Farms as a year-round flagship community program.
Your annual visit to the State Fair of Texas—the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit fair—helps fund Big Tex Urban Farms. For more information about 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, which opens September 30 and runs through October 23.