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.