How does a company grow 1 million meals in a place with incredibly high temperatures in the summer and cold temperatures in the winter? On top of that, this company has no tillable soil, no heavy farm equipment (i.e., traditional tractors or combines) and only asphalt and concrete to grow food. In addition, this company needs to move garden beds for new attractions and exhibits, so these raised beds need to be mobile.

Impossible, you say?

It is not only possible, it is happening right now in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In fact, it is happening at the State Fair of Texas while the fair is happening! In this episode, I sit down with Drew Demler from Big Tex Urban Farms and discuss various hydroponic systems and mobile garden beds used to grow 1 million meals for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We cover a lot of topics including who Drew Demler is, what kind of hydroponic systems are used, pests, fertilizers, wicking beds and small hydroponic systems you can set up at your own home.

Big Tex Urban Farms

How to Grow 1 Million Meals with Drew Demler, aquaponics

The State Fair of Texas started Big Tex Urban Farms in 2016.  Since that time, Big Tex Urban Farms has a focused mission: to connect like-minded agriculture entities and provides fresh produce to organizations focused on hunger and healthy lifestyle programs.”

What is interesting about this urban farm is that there is no tillable soil on the property that Big Tex Urban Farm is using.  The raised bed planters are built on pallets and can be moved for new attractions or changes at the Fair.  The hydroponic systems are inside the greenhouse, and consist of NFT systems, tower systems, Dutch Buckets and Deep Water Culture Beds that produce greens, herbs, and vine vegetables for local residents and restaurants.

With people like Drew Demler leading the way, there is no doubt in my mind that Big Tex Urban Farms will continue to push the envelope and provide nutritious meals to those in need for a long time to come.

Topics Discussed – How to Grow 1 Million Meals

Drew Demler How to Grow 1 Million Meals

The hydroponic raft system at Big Tex Urban Farms that produces significant greens for Dallas residents.

Overall, I think this episode provides a good introduction to hydroponic gardening and wicking bed gardening!  Drew and I covered a lot of topics in this episode including the following:

  • Who is Drew Demler?
  • What is Big Tex Urban Farms?
  • What kind of hydroponic systems are used at Big Tex Urban Farms
    • NFT Systems
    • Dutch Buckets
    • Tower Systems
    • Deep Water Culture Beds
  • Pest control in hydroponic systems
  • Fertilizers and water amendments
  • Introduction to wicking beds and rain gutter grow systems
  • Small hydroponic systems you can set up at your own home

Episode Links

The following links were discussed during this podcast:

If you would like to visit Big Tex Urban Farms, connect with Drew on his Instagram account or contact Big Tex Urban Farms directly.  Drew would love to see you!

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Hyde Free Instrumentals for the Acoustic Folk Instrumental. For more information, please see the following:

Acoustic/Folk Instrumental by Hyde – Free Instrumentals
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 
Free Download / Stream:
Music promoted by Audio Library

Listen to the Episode

Listen to the Small Scale Gardening Podcast on any of the following apps:
Google Play

Click here to Download the MP3 of the podcast

To listen, click on the small triangle next to the player below:

Watch the Episode

You can also watch the podcast episode on the Small Scale Gardening YouTube Channel or watch it here: