After all the corny dogs and cotton candy tacos at the State Fair of Texas are gone, a steady stream of fresh produce will continue to flow out of the fairgrounds and into South Dallas through a network of community groups.
Big Tex Urban Farms, based at the foot of the Texas Star Ferris wheel in Fair Park, estimates that, by the end of this year, it will have produced about 600,000 servings of vegetables. That’s just more than half a million servings from about a third of an acre since the farm’s first season in 2016.
“We found our niche,” says Jason Hays, the fair’s creative director. “We’re here for the long haul.”
The farm previously managed about 500 wooden raised dirt beds on slotted construction pallets that sat in the parking lot. Potatoes, onions, carrots, okra, and other vegetables grew during the summer. Then the pallets were moved by forklifts to make room for the fair.
“I knew I didn’t want to keep doing that,” says Drew Demler, greenhouse manager and director of horticulture. The bulk of the farm’s produce now comes from hydroponic systems in the fair’s big greenhouse. There’s no dirt, and it’s never too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry. Food can be harvested year-round, and it has boosted production more than fivefold, according to the State Fair. It also doesn’t have to be moved in the fall and can act as an educational exhibit during the fair.
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