Gardopia Gardens, Big Green partner for sustainable food event in San Antonio

Event to be held at Gardopia Gardens on Sunday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Big Green's 'Grow Together' tour will pass through San Antonio on Sunday, April 14. (Big Green)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio will soon see a big green bus on the road with a mission to promote sustainable agriculture in mind.

Big Green, a nonprofit encouraging Americans to grow their food, announced its Big Green Bus Tour last Thursday. The nonprofit’s founders are business partners and entrepreneurs Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk.

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The tour began in Burnet on April 5. San Antonio will see the bus visit Gardopia Gardens on Sunday, April 14.

“We whole-heartedly believe that growing food changes lives,” Madeleine Nelson, Big Green’s vice president of advancement, said in a press release. “This tour is a way for us to honor the people and communities that are changing the status quo of our food system through gardening, while also acting as an amplifier of the stories that share the true impact of growing food firsthand.”

Landing in San Antonio

Gardopia Gardens, a San Antonio-based gardening nonprofit on the East Side, will partner with Big Green for the April 14 event.

This first cluster of stops was chosen based on Big Green’s existing partnerships, many of which work with school or home-based gardening programs in their respective cities.

Big Green’s partner in San Antonio is Gardopia Gardens, an East Side nonprofit focused on farming and wellness.

The two groups first partnered in 2022. Gardopia Gardens founder and CEO Stephen Lucke joined a Big Green steering committee to further community partnerships the following year.

“Their work to use garden-based learning to address health disparities closely aligns with our mission at Big Green and together Big Green, Gardopia, and the Mays Family Foundation have supported 40 schools in San Antonio to launch or strengthen their garden programs,” Nelson said in an email to KSAT.

In 2024, the two organizations partnered for a program investing $250,000 in SAISD schools to support school garden initiatives.

For Sunday’s event, the groups are planning a farmer’s market with food, live music, and giveaways. Lucke said the city would provide fruit trees for attendees to adopt.

‘Grow Together’

Big Green said this first “Grow Together” tour is only the beginning.

“The Big Green Bus Tour will be an inaugural initiative we take to build deeper connections to communities we’ve impacted, and spotlight the grassroots leaders who are tackling the food justice movement in these respective communities,” Nelson said. “Our focus is on co-hosting fun and engaging events with our partners across the nation to bring their communities together over the power of growing food.”

A message plastered on the back of Big Green's bus. (Big Green)

The organization’s mission revolved around encouraging Americans to participate in growing their food and tackling food insecurity across the country.

Addressing food insecurity in San Antonio

According to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s website, food insecurity is one of six priority areas.

The San Antonio Food Bank is one of several groups in the city aimed at curbing a dark state statistic: Texas ranks second in the nation for food insecurity.

In 2021, 14% of the Bexar County population experienced food insecurity, SA Forward data showed.

Proponents of urban farming have called the practice “the future of farming.”

A 2023 study by The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University examined the benefits of urban food forests and farms in San Antonio that could be developed on underutilized land.

As a caveat, while analysis into agriculture sites such as the Tamōx Talōm Food Forest and the Garcia Street Urban Farm were included, the study did not take into account the community-based organizations promoting regenerative agriculture or alternative farming methods such as hydroponic farming or acequia irrigation.

The study’s results indicated that 16,800 acres of publicly owned natural areas could be converted to spaces for urban agriculture.

Other data showed that if the available land was converted into an urban food forest, it could produce an estimated 192 million pounds of fruit and nuts versus an estimated 926 million pounds of vegetables if converted into an urban farm.

“Throughout the tour, we’ll be amplifying the stories of grassroots leaders and communities who are challenging the status quo of our food system ... and inspiring others to get involved in promoting sustainable living,” Nelson said.

The Big Green bus will visit Gardopia Gardens on Sunday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An event on Saturday with Reverend Raymond Bryant Sr. and the AME Church is also planned.

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About the Author

Mason Hickok is a digital journalist at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, reading and watching movies.

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