During the week of April 17, the State Fair of Texas full-time team revealed their green thumbs by volunteering at Big Tex Urban Farms. The week-long volunteer celebration took place in honor of Earth Day. Volunteers learned about each team member’s role and participated in the Farms’ daily routine by planting a variety of greens and harvesting vegetables, such as cucumbers and tomatoes.
Neosha Wright, administrative coordinator for the State Fair of Texas, shared her thoughts on volunteering: “I enjoyed learning the many processes of Big Tex Urban Farms. I even tasted some of the fresh greens; they were flavorful and delicious,” said Wright. “Volunteering at the Farms brought back memories of my grandmother and me when we used to peel greens and plant seeds for fresh veggies. Additionally, I found a new sense of camaraderie and teamwork as I volunteered with other staff members outside of my department.”
While Earth Day occurs only once a year, Big Tex Urban Farms consistently “invests in our planet,” aligning with the official 2023 Earth Day theme. Acknowledging the program’s success, the State Fair of Texas plans to continue growing and investing in Big Tex Urban Farms as one of its year-round signature community programs. Read more about the history of the program below.
In 2016, the State Fair of Texas introduced Big Tex Urban Farms, a revolutionary, mobile agriculture system in the heart of Fair Park. As a testing ground for the project, the Fair used an 80-by-80-foot area normally used to house the Gateway Pavilion during the State Fair season. Employees from various departments worked with a Fair Park-area company to develop 100 raised planting beds created out of products normally used for packaging and shipping.
By the end of 2016, the project proved itself to be a successful experiment by investing financial and human capital into immediate Fair Park neighborhoods and companies. It connects like-minded agriculture entities and provides fresh produce to organizations focused on hunger and healthy lifestyle programs.
In its seventh full year of production, the Farms reached a milestone in its program history. Announced in 2018, the million servings mission committed the State Fair of Texas and its signature program, Big Tex Urban Farms to grow and donate one million servings to the local community. In less than four years, the State Fair of Texas made that goal a reality – donating 1,000,000 servings of fresh produce to the South Dallas community for our neighbors in need. On July 15, 2022, the one-millionth serving was donated to the Baylor Scott & White Juanita J. Craft Health and Wellness Center. As of April 2023, Big Tex Urban Farms has produced 110,892 pounds, 145,562 heads of lettuce, and 1,208,205 servings.
Visit Big Tex Urban Farms in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway during the annual State Fair of Texas and learn more about the amazing work that goes into this community program. The 2023 State Fair of Texas will run from September 29 through October 22. Meanwhile, enjoy a Big Tex Urban Farms virtual tour on the official State Fair of Texas YouTube page.