^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
4

New Hydroponic Garden Is Sprouting at the State Fair for South Dallas’ Food Desert

You can check out the cool new hydroponic garden that will help feed South Dallas soon.EXPAND
You can check out the cool new hydroponic garden that will help feed South Dallas soon.
Micah Moore

There is a bountiful surprise at the State Fair of Texas this year, tucked away in a greenhouse beyond the Star of Texas Ferris wheel and carnival games.

Big Tex Urban Farms is instilling urban agriculture practices to help fill in food deserts of South Dallas. A hydroponic garden is growing cucumbers, tomatoes and a variety of greens along with microgreens and melons.

On display in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway are a variety of hydroponic systems — tower and vertical — multiple deepwater culture systems and vine and microgreen beds.

It’s a glimpse into a new, indoor hydroponic garden going into Hatcher Farms, a multifaceted community garden planting a pathway to economic stability in South Dallas/Fair Park.

The Restorative Farms organization is planting crops in raised beds, traditional rows and, coming soon, an indoor hydroponic system housed in a shipping container.

Hatcher Farm plans to have fresh, affordable produce available on market days at local shelters and food pantries. Over time, they'll grow upward of 164,000 servings of vegetables.

“There is nothing we know of like this nationwide,” says Drew Demler, director of horticulture at Big Tex Urban Farms. “Everything that isn’t getting sold will be donated to shelters in the area, just across the street.”

Cucumbers are among the produce growing in the hydroponic gardens at this year’s Big Tex Urban Farms exhibit.EXPAND
Cucumbers are among the produce growing in the hydroponic gardens at this year’s Big Tex Urban Farms exhibit.
Micah Moore

The hydroponic garden on display at the fair marks just the beginning of a three-year plan to make Hatcher Farms a profitable operation serving South Dallas, says equity activist Brad Boa.

“There are so many benefits to an urban farm that helps create sustainable neighborhoods,” Boa says. “It’s an avenue for economic development and being able to stand on your own.”

The plan aspires to employ as many as six people to operate the garden while cultivating community. The neighborhood farm is situated on the northern edge of a vast food desert that encircles the city on Dallas’ southern and western sides.

It’s all just steps away from DART’s Hatcher Station near Fair Park and the Parkdale and Piedmont Addition neighborhoods.

The garden will allow seasonal crops as well as year-round access to nutritional vegetables grown indoors.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Several groups are involved in the project: DART donated the land, Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club donated $115,000 and Big Texas Urban Farm is getting the farm off the ground. It’s also supported by the city of Dallas, Dallas ISD, Southern Methodist University, Get Healthy Dallas, EarthX, the State Fair of Texas, Hort Americas and Texas A&M AgriLife. It takes a village.

The hydroponic garden is the last phase of Hatcher Farm. The climate-controlled garden will be housed in a shipping container, where lettuce and other greens will be grown year-round.

Impressively, hydroponic gardens use about 85% less water than traditional agriculture.

“Not only are we providing access to greens in an area where they won’t be found otherwise, but also hydroponic gardens are more environmentally friendly,” says Stacy Mehlhoff, Sun Club executive director.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.