Big Tex Urban Farms and Hort Americas have partnered together to install, test and demonstrate a variety of hydroponic production systems while at the same time providing Dallas community organizations with locally-grown produce.
What started as an outdoor gardening project by the State Fair of Texas to better serve the local South Dallas community has surpassed what fair officials ever imagined might be accomplished. Jason Hayes, who is the fair’s creative director, and Drew Demler, who is the fair’s director of horticulture, devised a plan to start an outdoor vegetable garden in unused parking space.
“Big Tex Urban Farms started with a small budget in 2016 using 100 mobile planter boxes to grow food outdoors,” Demler said. “During that first year we got some decent yields. The food that we harvested was donated to two local charitable organizations.
“Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Institute in Mill City, Texas, is our primary beneficiary. The institute hosts a farmers market for the community on Tuesday and Friday. One of the institute’s main objectives is to get people eating healthy, fresh vegetables. We donate vegetables, including lettuce, collard greens, Swiss chard, basil and chives, and they in turn give the produce away. This is in a community where there really aren’t many other good options for fresh produce.”