The third annual Greenville Sustainability and Natural Health Fair will be held Oct. 25 in downtown Greenville. Photo courtesy of Terry Jensen.

Oct. 21, 2014

By Marshall Hinsley

If recycling your recyclables and conserving energy by turning off the lights when you leave a room are old habits of yours, then you may be ready for the next steps of sustainable living to be demonstrated at the third annual Greenville Sustainability and Natural Health Fair, hosted by the Friends of the Greenville Farmers Market and the city of Greenville.

Showcasing how you can get started in solar energy, alternative building techniques, organic gardening, natural health, eco villages and more, the fair is the only one of its kind for North Texas and is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25, at the downtown farmers market in Greenville in Hunt County. Admission is free.


Organizer Terry Jensen says the fair is intended to meet a growing desire among North Texas residents to live a more earth-friendly and healthier life. In addition to having a chance to talk to sustainability experts, attendees can participate in classes being taught throughout the day, focusing on topics that range from how to build compressed earth blocks and to how to build community.

Right, compressed earth block wall in progress. Courtesy of Advanced Earthen Construction Technologies (AECT).

The fair’s expert presenters will be a mix of experienced locals and well-known leaders. 

“At 1 p.m., East Texas author Eric Best will speak about the greater sense of community in intentional communities, which are also known as ecovillages,” Jensen said. “At 2 p.m., Jim Duncan, owner of the oldest solar energy company in Texas, will be here to help people learn more about how to get started with renewable energy.”

Left, Eric Best.

At noon, Greenville physician Dr. Maxine Thomas will be the fair’s keynote speaker with a presentation on functional medicine, a practice aimed at curing disease and medical conditions rather than merely mitigating their symptoms.


Jensen said she became interested in organizing the fair several years ago as a way to become more involved in eco-conscious living. A proponent of intentional communities with plans to help one get off the ground in Greenville, Jensen said public interest in learning about how to live a greener lifestyle is huge, but resources and information are sparse and sometimes difficult to access.

Right, North Texas solar pioneer Jim Duncan.

“The fair will give people who attend not just a way to get started but also a chance to learn advanced information,” Jensen said. “People are really hungry for this kind of information, and to get it from other sources can be really expensive. That’s why we’re having this fair, to disseminate this information free to the public and to connect vendors with customers and to get teachers together with students.”

Jensen said the fair, which is now in its third year, draws about a thousand attendees from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and even from throughout the state. So far, 35 exhibitors have signed up to present their expertise and sustainable offerings, plus another dozen teachers will be onsite to answer questions and share their experience.

A special highlight of the fair will be a seed and plant exchange, a way for vegetable and flower gardeners to share what they’ve succeeded in growing and to try something new that others bring to the swap.

The fair will include a seed and plant swap for gardeners.

“The only other fair like this one that I know of takes place near Austin,” Jensen said. 


As to why such an advanced presentation on sustainability happens a half-hour drive east of Dallas rather than in the big city itself, Jensen said there’s simply a growing community of like-minded people who’ve found each other and formed a network in Hunt County.

“The fair is a pretty big deal for North Texas, even though it’s in little old Greenville,” Jensen said. “Greenville has a faction that’s into this sort of thing – organic growing, grass-fed beef, local food. Each year a team from Greenville High School enters the Solar Car Challenge and they’ve even won second place. There are people who are pioneering sustainably living all over Hunt County.”

No longer just a lofty topic kicked around by college students and environmentalists, sustainability is becoming a goal of the mainstream. In big cities and small towns alike, a growing number of people are becoming interested in the advantages of renewable energy, a safer system of food production, eco-friendly building practices and communities created with a high quality of life as their purpose.

“Each year, interest in the fair just grows and grows,” Jensen said. “The first year, nobody expected the fair to be all that successful, but it was, and now it’s getting bigger every year. I think that’s a good sign that this interest will continue into the future.”

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Marshall Hinsley is a writer, video producer and sustainable farmer who lives in Waxahachie. He's written for Culture Map Dallas, Edible Dallas & Fort Worth magazine and a variety of corporate clients. On his organic farm south of Waxahachie, Hinsley specializes in growing organic specialty melons. Contact him at

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