Program 1

Vegetable Production in a Food Desert


Partners: Texas A&M - BAEN Capstone Program
USDA Grant NR207442XXXXC010


3rd place in the AGCO National Student Design Competition held by The American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers


Project Objectives

Provide vegetable production on a pilot plot of our 200-acre farm located on the East Slator Ranch, 12 miles South of Aguilares, in Webb County, Texas

Our project will employ rainwater harvesting and high tunnels to supplement a vegetable garden to prove that a sustainable model is a viable solution in this area of South Texas, which has been designated by the USDA as a Food Desert. The successful program will provide a replicable model that can be employed in other designated Food Desert regions to help resolve food supply issues and create more robust local production.

The project will be a 5-acre development on the farm to create a rural garden in Eastern Webb County. The project will include a 1-acre water storage pond, High Tunnels, as well as a traditionally irrigated garden area. 

We will take advantage of the topography of the area to create a 1-acre water storage pond that will be the catchment area for the surrounding several acres of farm land. Given the average annual rainfall, discounting evaporation, there will conservatively be approximately 1,000,000 gallons of water available given an average depth of 4 ft. in the reservoir. 

The 4 high tunnels will be 25’ x 105’ and will be spaced to allow a wind break and limited shelter for the traditional garden areas that will be located adjacent to the high tunnels. The high tunnels and the traditional garden area will be rotated in and out of production throughout the year to take the greatest advantage of the available growing season while protecting against the harsh environment of the South Texas locale.



Civil works to create 1-acre catchment area for rain water capture and storage Civil works to level and prepare the gardening area

Installation of Qty 4 24’ x 105’ high tunnel units
Installation of pumps and piping for water distribution

Drip irrigation system installation for 2 acres of traditional agriculture operations Fencing for wildlife control Planting
Operations and Maintenance
Community outreach

This project is part of our portfolio of projects which are used in the capstone projects program at Texas A&M, as well as a learning center for our Laredo College vocational students. The local community will benefit from our production as we will provide 100% of the production of the rural garden project to the surrounding community for free.


Texas A&M Capstone Project parameters


Design Objectives

Determine the most sustainable option for crop selection utilizing the combination of high tunnels and traditional farming in this area.

Determine the most efficient irrigation method(s) to be used.


Known Constraints

Commercial power can be made available, however alternative energy sources are preferred.
The 1-acre pond is the only source of water


Desired Deliverables

Detailed design for the irrigation system as well as an operational plan for the garden Detailed business plan demonstrating commercial viability

Our successful project will provide over 3 acres of vegetable production on open land, as well as the production of the 4 high tunnels. The project is scalable due to the size of our water source and the efficiency of our water usage practices.


Project Budget


Civil Works Rain Water Harvesting Catchment Pond


$ 25,000

Civil Works ground preparation for high tunnels and garden


$ 5,000

High Tunnel procurement



High Tunnel Installation



Electrical power and distribution installation



Installation of water pumps and piping



Installation of drip irrigation system



Plants, seeds, tools, supplies



Fencing for wildlife control



Maintenance and operations



Outreach programs








Partial funding has been received through USDA Grant NR207442XXXXC010, in the amount of $15,000.

Sponsorships are available for the procurement of any of the budget items above as well as marketing opportunities, including signage along the county road, and at our office