In Austin, “locally-grown” means right inside the city limits. Possibly even in your neighborhood. Each year, East Austin Urban Farm Tour celebrates some of the wonderful working farms in the heart of East Austin. The event gives visitors the opportunity to tour four working farms, all within walking distance of each other. [Read more…]
Guest article by Irvianne Torremoro
Food and community are huge parts of what makes Austin the great city it is. New restaurants pop up every other day, but the unsung heroes–our urban farms–need some love too!
From a nonprofit farm that helps youth to a well-known veteran nestled in the heart of East Austin, there are several places in Austin where you can fill your basket with locally-grown produce.
1/ Urban Roots
Urban Roots started in 2008 with a mission to help youth and inspire the local community. Currently focused on high school kids, the internship program teaches young people job-readiness and leadership skills during their time at the farm. Hard work and open communication are both emphasized. A new program, geared toward college-age students, will start this season.
This non-profit urban farm is geared towards helping the community in as many ways as possible. Urban Roots participates in several hunger relief programs, sharing produce with organizations such as Serafina HOPE Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels and Neighbor 2 Neighbor. Last year, more than 40% of the harvest went to help these Hunger Relief partners, and Urban Roots is anticipating an even bigger harvest this year.
Volunteer days are hosted every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tuesday and Thursday are led by staff members, while Saturday is led by interns. Signing up is easy. Just make sure to bring closed-toe shoes and a long sleeve shirt, since there’ll be plenty of outdoor work in the fields and new orchard. Farm tours will be available in spring 2017.
7651 Delwau Lane – Website
2/ Johnson’s Backyard Garden
One of the area’s more well-known farms, Johnson’s Backyard Garden holds true to its name. Johnson literally started in his backyard in 2004, first selling to farmers’ markets and eventually moving to 20 acres of land five miles east of downtown Austin.
Johnson’s Backyard Garden mainly focuses on their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, along with wholesale. CSA shares (vegetables, fruits and herbs) are delivered every week or every other week, either to your home or a preferred drop-off location. The farm can also be found at local farmers’ markets like Barton Creek and HOPE.
They pride themselves on working with the community and providing chemical-free, organic produce all over Austin. They also work with and donate to local charities like Central Texas Food Bank, Salvation Army and Nubian Queen Lola’s on the east side.
Johnson’s offers volunteer half days, Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers who put in hard work and help at the farm are rewarded with an abundance of delicious produce to take home.
9515 Hergotz Lane E. – Website
More reading –> “Get to Know These 9 Austin Farmers’ Markets”
3/ Boggy Creek Farm
Nestled in the heart of East Austin, the five acres of Boggy Creek Farm represent one of the most veteran urban farms in the whole country, let alone in Austin. The house on the lot was built in 1840 along with its sister house, The French Legation Museum, which is close by.
Carolann and Larry Sayles started their original farm in 1991, about 80 miles away in the Oak Hill area. They always loved East Austin and found themselves buying their East Austin land in 1992 so they could farm in town. The grand greenhouse contains the seeds that end up being planted in the field, as Carolann stresses that everything on the farm is started at seed right there. From tomatoes and cauliflower to Romanesco and everything in between, all of the produce is lovingly cared for by the Sayles Family and their small team.
Since there weren’t any farm stands in the area, they started their own on their property in 1994, with just one table of produce until the word spread. Nowadays, Boggy Creek Farm stand has expanded from that first table to a larger spot next to the house. Boggy Creek’s weekly produce is represented, along with goods from other local purveyors like Pure Luck Farm, Bee Tree Farm, Dos Lunas and Thunder Heart Bison. Also on the shelves are Larry’s Original Smoked Dried Tomatoes and Hot Sauce, both delicious snacks from the man himself.
The farm stand is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
3414 Lyons Road – Website
More reading –> “Top 12 Austin Restaurants for Locavores”
4/ HausBar Urban Farm
Another gem hidden off the beaten path is HausBar Urban Farm, close to the intersection of Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard. Dorsey Barger and wife Susan Hausmann moved to the two acres of land in 2009. Hausmann used to own Eastside Cafe on Manor Road before leaving to start HausBar Farm.
The duo focuses on several varieties of edible flowers, herbs and produce, while emphasizing sustainability at the heart of it all. “The driving principle here is insane levels of sustainability,” Barger stresses. Dorsey emphasizes that everything is completely pesticide and gas-free, dug by hand and taken care of with as much care for the environment and local community as possible.
HausBar works directly with restaurants to up the ante on their seasonal menus. Drop the HausBar name to any local chef and she’ll know who you’re talking about, singing the praises of this urban farm. Dorsey has credits “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan as a major inspiration for the open educational tours they provide on the farm.
3300 Govalle Ave. – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite urban farm in the Austin area?
Irvianne Torremoro is a service industry professional and founder of Flavor & Bounty, where she enjoys sharing stories about food, drinks and getting to know the people of the craft. She’s willing to hug all the animals, talk Beyoncé and be your BFF.
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Earlier this moth, Eat Out For Good teamed up with Buick to produce a lively charitable event at Parkside to benefit Urban Roots. Now that’s a whole lot of Austin goodness crammed into one sentence. Let’s break it down a bit to pay homage to these great contributors to Austin’s culture and community. [Read more…]
The topic of food access is a personal one for me, being from the small city of Pueblo, Colo., where half the population is Hispanic and 32 percent lives below the poverty line. Growing up, I consumed a diet heavily based on fast food, sodas, canned vegetables and packaged foods. I had never heard the word “organic” until my sophomore year of college in Boulder, Colo., when I stepped foot into a Whole Foods for the first time.
It was then that I began to question where my food came from and discovered my interest in nutrition. I now know I grew up in what the Department of Agriculture refers to as a “food desert:” an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.
“Food desert” seems to be a commonly used term nowadays. But beyond the deserts are food swamps, and neither are beneficial to a community’s health. Hilda Gutiérrez, Food Access Manager of the Sustainable Food Center (SFC), informed me that food swamps tend to be of more concern within the city of Austin, particularly in East Austin.
Food swamps are areas saturated with unhealthy food options offered by large corporations that target low-income communities of color. Not coincidentally, this is the population most affected by diet-related, preventable illness, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. Fast food is cheap food. For families struggling to put meals on the table, the road leading to the drive-thru is often well-traveled. [Read more…]
What Austin resident hasn’t heard of Jester King Brewery and Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza? Adjacent to these local favorites is a relatively new sustainable farm you may not have heard of, but don’t doubt that Logro Farms has been gaining massive traction over the past three years.
Two friends from Houston, Ryan Sansbury and Jeremy Bastian, conceived the idea of a sustainable, full-cycle farm in Austin. After trying their hand at brewing kombucha and beer, and then making cheese, gourmet oyster mushrooms proved to be the ultimate choice. With oyster mushrooms, the duo could create a quality, healthy product while enabling its accessibility to the public through home-growing kits.
In 2013, with an outpouring of support from the Austin community through a Kickstarter campaign, Logro Farms came to fruition. “Our mission is all about low-waste local farming. We sell our products to local Austin and Central Texas restaurants, and we ship our kits all across the world. We can do fresh for local, and we can also do grow-at-home for everybody,” said Sansbury.
If you haven’t explored the generous selection of robust Austin farmers’ markets, you’re missing out on a fantastic collection of veggies and vibes. From North Austin to old Austin, from rural farms to urban farm stands, our city offers some of the most unique and exciting ways to eat seasonally and locally throughout the year.
There’s no better time than now to get out to one of these local markets and find farm-fresh food and artisanal vendors to entice your pallet and spruce up your dinner table. With choices all over the city, there’s likely to be a market right around the corner from you. But don’t limit yourself to just one. Visit all of these delicious farmers’ markets to put the fresh in Austin. [Read more…]
CrownFox Farms is a Certified Wildlife Habitat on the periphery of East Austin. In the past year, the property acquired six beehives. Now, three acres among the twenty-acre total area are active with bees, wildlife and wildflowers. Owners Sarah King and Deano Jones hope to continue growing the positive ecological impact of the farm, so I was ecstatic about helping create more buzz by visiting the bees. [Read more…]
Spring in Central Texas stirs up an urge to relive outdoor traditions, like live music and grilled foods. To that end, Farmgrass and Simmons Family Farms have harvested an idyllic farm setting in Niederwald, Texas to host this year’s Farmgrass Fest on May 3, 2015.
Just over thirty minutes south of Austin, you’ll experience the farm fresh aromas of the grill and scenic views to bring you close to the land and the farmers whose hands pull the roots from the ground.
I tried to limit the number of times I used the word community and some version of the word farm within the bounds of this story. The fact is, those two words are the sum of what Farmgrass is. [Read more…]
Living in Austin provides the wonderful opportunity to regularly come across people who put their heart and soul into helping others and the environment.
If you ever find yourself between Austin and Lockhart, you may run into a couple of these folks. Mike and Vanessa Torres run Heart of Gold Farm in Dale, Texas.
Mike and Vanessa grow tons of fresh, organic food for the underprivileged using aquaponic farming methods, which use about 95% less water and 1/3 of the energy conventional farming methods require. Aquaponic farming takes waste produced by fish or other aquatic animals and uses it to provide nutrients to plants being grown hydroponically. [Read more…]
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1842
I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Hawthorne, and I’m convinced he was specifically talking about autumn in the Hill Country. Fall here is its own unique kind of wonderful.
Maybe it’s the way the hills light up as the sun sets and gives way to cooler nights, or maybe it’s the fact that we feel like we’ve waited an eternity for some sort of relief from the sweltering heat, anything that would allow us to wear boots and scarves and flannel shirts. (You know dressing up is your favorite thing about fall, too.) [Read more…]