Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Spring Means Fabulous Outside Events in Austin! (Revised) March 25, 2014

After a long, and very cold winter in Austin, I look forward to outdoor events in the Spring.  There are many, many events, and this list is not exhaustive by any means.  I do have my favorites, all of which involve amazing food, cocktails and  support good causes. My picks also boast some of my favorite outdoor venues in the City as well.

March 29, 2014 – This weekend, there are two events that I really enjoy, this Saturday March 29th, is Farmhouse Delivery’s Fais D0-Do, Gumbo Cookoff at Rain Lily Farm.  Stroll the gorgeous grounds at Rain Lily Farm, sampling Gumbo from the varied entrants, sipping on bloody marys, listening to Zydeco music.  There are raffle prizes, too. I’m in!  $10 a ticket.  Proceeds benefit Creek People.

March 30, 2014 – this Sunday, 2nd Annual Crawfish Boil at Lenoir, benefiting Austin Food for Life, a non-profit  organization that assists Austin area food workers with health care.  This event will take place in the garden behind Lenoir.  $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

April 13, 2014East Austin Urban Farm Tour - Spend a Sunday afternoon strolling amongst the crops, visiting the chickens, donkeys and goats on four urban farms mere blocks apart. At each farm, chefs will offer tastes of their art, using farm ingredients. Local mixologists, brewers, and wine merchants will share sips. In the fields, farmers will introduce their crops, share their experiences as farmers and answer gardening questions. It will be the perfect opportunity to get your gardening questions solved, with farm tours on the hour.  Proceeds benefit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

Your $50 ticket will tell you which farm to start at, to prevent a backlog at any of the farms. No charge for children 12 & under.
Boggy Creek Farm – 3414 Lyons Road Austin, TX 78702

Food: Wink Restaurant,  Cafe Jose, Dolce Neve, Lenoir, Bufalina.  Drinks: Austin Wine Merchant, Live Oak, Weather Up

Hausbar Farm – 3300 Govalle, Austin, TX 78702

Food: Qui, Bola Pizza, Kome, Anjore Deepa, Dai Due.   Drinks Dripping Springs Vodka, Wahaca Tequila

Rain Lily Farm – 914 Shady Ln, Austin, TX 78702

Food:  Olive and June, Fabi and Rosi, Fresa’s.  (will update with full list)

Springdale Farm – 755 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78702

Food:  Eden East/Hillside Farmacy, Driskill Grill, Peche, Olamaie, Confituras. Drinks  Vinyards of Florence, Hops N Grain, Peche

See my recap of the 2011 East Austin Urban Farm Tour here:

April 19, 2014-Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour - Spend an afternoon on a self-guided tour of select Austin-area produce keepers to get inspiration for your own urban coop.  Proceeds benefit the Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc.

My recap of the 2010 Funky Chicken Coop Tour is here:

April 17, 2014 -Live Fire! – Austin Food and Wine Alliance 6:30 – 9:00
This year at the Salt Lick Pavilion, local and regional chefs will exhibit their culinary mastery over open flames. Stroll the beautiful grounds of the Salt Lick Pavilion, taste the chefs’ offerings, taste a variety of wines and enjoy being outside before summer moves us all back inside. $75.00

Chef lineup:

Rene Ortiz of Angry Bear, Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen (San Antonio), Brandon Fuller of Cafe Josie, Kendall Melton of Contigo, Jeff Martinez of El Chile Cafe y Cantina, Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s BBQ, Matt McAllister of FT33, (Dallas), Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants (San Antonio), Ronnie Killen of Killen’s BBQ (Pearland), Rick Lopez of La Condesa, Monica Glenn of qui, Ben Runkle, Bryan Butler and Josh Jones of Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria, Callie Speer of Swift’s Attic, Josh Watkins of The Carillon, Timothy Rattray of The Granary (San Antonio), Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick (Driftwood), Kristine Kittrell of Weather Up, Reece Lagunas of Whole Foods Market

More about this event from their website: http://austinfoodwinealliance.org/?page_id=610
To order tickets, go here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-fire-2014-tickets-10930275749
My recap of the 2011 Live Fire event here:

April 30, 2014Homegrown Revival Dinner at HOPE Outdoor Gallery.  “A very special dinner on the top level of one of Austin’s most popular landmarks – The HOPE Outdooor Gallery.  The night includes a 5-7 course locally sourced dining experience with music and pairs drinks along copy of  HOPE Outdoor Gallery; Lost &  Found Vol 1 art book & collection sticker pack.”  The dinner will be prepared by Chef Sonya Cote.   This should be a fabulous evening with amazing food, drinks and company. $150.00.  For tickets click here.

May 8, 2014 – Sustainable Food Center Farm to Plate: http://www.sustainablefoodcenter.org/donate/farm-to-plate $125.00

Sip and stroll format, with lots of local chefs, at the beautiful Barr Mansion.  Proceeds benefit the Sustainable Food Center and their many fabulous programs.

 

Austin’s Urban Farms Need Your Voice November 18, 2013

I’m hoping to return to my regular food blogging very soon, but today’s post is about food on a grander scale, and certainly way more important than what I’m growing, eating, canning or where I’m eating out.

The City of Austin has been in the process of updating the Urban Farm Code for nearly a year.  A small, very vocal  activist group  is waging war on the farms, in the name of commercialization of the East Austin neighborhood where they have quietly (and organically) farmed for years.   As far as we know, one neighbor had an issue with one farm, months ago, which started this whole process, and the complaint has long since been corrected and no longer exists.  The farms have many happy and supportive neighbors who love having green space, a place to gather, and local produce, dairy, and proteins from neareby ranches, available for purchase.

I recently heard allegation is that the farms have events that are too expensive for the neighbors to attend.  As the Vice President of Green Corn Project, a non-profit who holds it’s annual fundraiser at Boggy Creek Farm, for which we charge $35-$40 to attend, I’d like to report that this year we raised nearly $18,000, which will enable us to install and maintain organic food gardens for residents, schools and community centers  in East Austin, and other low income neighborhoods, as we’ve done now for 15 years.  The other farms host fundraisers for a variety of non-profits, including the Sustainable Food Center, Urban Roots, Food for Life, and have raised at least $100,000 in 2013 alone.  Much of this money goes to directly benefit these neighborhoods.

We have a website,  where you can read up on the issue, sign as a supporter, and stay up to date.  There is also a Facebook Page and invitation to come to City Council on Thursday, 11/21/13 at 3:30, and sign up to speak in support of the farms, or merely sign in showing your support.

If you’d like to read about the farms affected, they all have websites: Boggy Creek Farm, Springdale Farm, Hausbar Farm, and Rain Lily Farm.

With more and more news about GMO’s, Monsanto, Pink Slime,  recalls, exploding watermelons and all other scary news about our food supply, local, organic produce has never been more important – at least, to me.  (very enlightening  TedX Talk about our food supply here)

As a long time Tarrytown resident (since 1990) I would do anything to have an urban farm next to me.  The lot next to my house has been vacant for about a year, and soon to be a McMansion, I’m sure.  Plus, the soil in West Austin is inhospitable for growing food, which is opposite of the East Austin Blackland Prairie soil.   I’d rather live next to this.

Hausbar crops

Hausbar crops

Springdale Flowers

Springdale Flowers

Broccoli at Boggy Creek Farm

Broccoli at Boggy Creek Farm

Rain Lily Farm

If you’d like to read the proposed changes to the existing Urban Farm Code,  they are here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxzylTILPsr2M1NVMHVYNUZ0TzQ/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1

Please ask the City Council to vote to approve the Urban Farm Code updates, as passed by the Planning Commission, at their meeting this Thursday, 11/21/13.

 

Urban Farms Are Good for East Austin June 27, 2013

When I got in my car yesterday morning, to head to work, I heard Susanna Almanza, from PODER, a group against urban farms in East Austin, on the radio talking about how people with “disposable income” are moving to East Austin to start farms that take up space that could be used for affordable housing.  During the course of the day, I heard several different snippets, one in particular that the farms sell produce that East Austinites cannot afford. The group has also alleged that some unnamed farm, refused to provide seedlings to someone because they “couldn’t profit” from giving them away.  They are being portrayed as profit driven commercial entities who do not support their East Austin Community.  I feel compelled to respond to this with some actual facts.  Maybe they just don’t know all of the good that the farms do?

I am long time supporter of the Sustainable Food Center, and supporter and new Board Member of the Green Corn Project, both organizations that work with low income people from all over Austin, but certainly East Austin.

Boggy Creek Farm, has hosted the Green Corn Project’s main fundraiser, for 14 years.  This October  27th will be the 15th year that Boggy Creek opens up the farm to host our Fall Festival.  This is the one major fund raising opportunity for Green Corn Project, whose mission is to install  gardens at no cost, for low income people (school and churches) who would otherwise have no access to organic food.  Green Corn Project has installed hundreds of gardens in East Austin over the years, taught recipients how to maintain them, provided compost, seeds and seedlings  and we couldn’t carry out that mission without the generosity of Boggy Creek Farm. (Picture below is from Metz Elementary Garden)  The farm gives tours to any school that asks, and has hosted free camps for neighborhood children over the years.

School Tour.  Last month they did four in one day!

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p480x480/1010788_10151664995412192_197046429_n.jpg

Springdale Farm frequently hosts events for and benefiting non-profits, including the Sustainable Food Center , which operates 4 local farmer’s markets in Austin, including one in East Austin, teaches low income families how to seek out healthier food, grow it and cook it in ways that work for their individual families.  The SFC also teaches gardening and installs gardens.  Most recently, Springdale hosted Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, for a pop-up picnic  which was free to the public, and accepted donations for the Sustainable Food Center.  Nearly $500 was raised for the SFC.  Springdale hosts school tours for whomever asks, at no cost, to teach children where food comes from and has worked a lot with Idea Allen Elementary, its nearest neighbor. (Idea Allen lends Springdale its parking lot behind the farm, so that events on the farm have little to no impact on the neighborhood.)  Most recently, Govalle Elementary School, in East Austin, came to the farm for a tour, and sent these thank you notes.  Community is among the most important missions of each of the East Austin Urban Farms.

Photo: Thanks for coming Govalle Elementary. Now eat your veggies!

Photo: Special delivery! Sweet notes from Govalle Elementary School.

Idea Allen Elementary Garden Club on the farm.

Photo: IDEA Allen Elementary School Garden Club visited the farm this week. Next generation coming on strong...

Hausbar Farm, just this year donated eggs to Govalle Elementary so that they could hatch their own chicks. This Spring, Hausbar hosted 3 Govalle Elementary pre-k classes on the farm.  The kids were able to walked down the street to their neighborhood farm to see where food comes from.   The farm hosted a small group of high schoolers from Austin Can Academy, and taught them about sustainable farming.  Dorsey, one of Hausbar’s owners,  went to UT’s East 6th Street Elementary School for a couple of visits to donate seeds and time to talk to their garden club and prepare their beds for planting.  Hausbar hosted a free neighborhood camp this spring so that everyone in the neighborhood could enjoy the farm. Every chance the get, they host Urban Roots youth who come and enjoy getting to know where eggs come from (since they don’t have hens at their farm) and getting to know just what the heck donkeys have to do with farming.  They recently hosted a bus-load of Walnut Creek school, Elementary School Garden Club members.  Last week we had a fantastic group from kids and adults from Communities In Schools come spend the morning with us.  2 weeks ago Hausbar  had a summer camp that included paying campers, but neighborhood campers were invited to attend free of charge.  (photo from Spring camp which was free)

Photo: Had such a great time at our Neighborhood Kids Farm Camp Saturday! We live in the best neighborhood in Austin!

Rain Lily Farm hosts an annual arts series, free to everyone in the neighborhood, called Shakespeare on the Farm.  People come to the farm, (many walk from their homes nearby,) sit on blankets and enjoy the works of William Shakespeare, performed on the farm.

Shakespeare on the Farm Fall 2011

The contributions to the East Austin (and greater Austin) communities by these farms is invaluable and way to vast for me to  include even a fraction of what they do.  They are good neighbors and I would gladly have any one them it my neighborhood, next to my house.   They are each a shining example of how we all should be treating the Earth, using organic methods in their farming, collecting rainwater and composting.  I could go on listing all the good things these farms have done and continue to do, but it would be laborious, and too long to read.

The City currently is working on amendments to the Urban Farm Code, which, as written is somewhat vague.  I have been attending the Board/counsel meetings to keep informed and show support for the farms.  Currently, the suggested amendments to the existing Urban Farm Code, limit events on the farms and would require special event permits for most events.    Farms don’t generate enough income from selling produce, to support continued farming.  Events are essential.  Farmers are not politicians, and aren’t accustomed to public speaking and political activism.  They could use our help spreading news of their good works and you can help by signing up as a supporter at http://www.austinurbanfarms.org.   The site also lists other ways you can help support our local farms.

 

Austin Chronicle Blog – Farm-City, State January 8, 2013

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I am knocked down with the flu this week and not getting any blogging done for this blog.  However, I did write a guest post for the Austin Chronicle Blog section, entitled “Farm-City, State, Documentary Film in Progress.”

If you are interested, here it is:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/blogs/food/2013-01-08/farm-city-state-documentary-film-in-progress

 

 

For the Love of Chickens – HausBar Farms January 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 11:04 pm
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~Gandhi (1869-1948).

Dorsey Barger and Susan Hausman bought, Hausbar Farms  their East Austin property several years ago, a run down plot of land in East Austin, on which sat decrepit buildings being utilized as crack houses. Through their hard work and care, the property is now their home, a working sustainable farm, and a burgeoning business.  The farm in also inhabited by my two favorite donkeys, a goat or two, rabbits and chickens.

The focus of this post is the chickens.   I learned a couple of weeks ago that Hausbar had started making their chickens available for sale at Boggy Creek Farm.  I had already been buying a chicken a week, from the farmer’s market, which I typically  roast on Sunday night.  One chicken provides several meals throughout the week.

In my ongoing efforts to evolve as an aware and  compassionate eater, I accepted an invitation from my friend Cecilia to visit Hausbar Farms,  on a day that they would be slaughtering chickens. (Also attending was my new friend Mike Sutter. )   In my mind, I  danced around the word “slaughtering”, but have come to accept that this is the appropriate term.  I don’t believe that you have to kill your own food to appreciate it, but I have felt for some time, that in order to truly honor the food that I eat, I should at least understand how it comes to transition from living farm animal, to sustenance for me.  I did not relish the idea, but hoped that it would be a fulfilling experience.

Hausbar has both laying hens and meat birds, which is fairly self explanatory.  The meat birds are heritage chicken breeds raised for meat, the laying hens are for eggs.   The chickens are purchased just hatched, before they have eaten any food.  Hausbar feeds them organic feed, and allows them to roam around and forage for worms, bugs and whatever else chickens forage for.  They lead happy lives, filled with sunshine and shenanigans, as do the other farm animals.  (A stark contrast to commercially raised chickens who never see the light of day and routinely have their beaks removed so they can’t harm one another in close confinement.)

The farm employs a beloved woman named Lola, who tends to the chickens on a daily basis, feeding them, collecting eggs, and nursing them back to health when problems arise.  One of the chickens on this day, had lived in Lola’s home while she treated its injured foot, so that the other chickens did not bully it.  It seemed fitting, that Lola, the person the chickens are used to and comfortable with, would carry out the final procedure.  I have edited, deleted and added to this part for several days now, partly wanting to share the entire experience, partly not wanting to be too macabre with pictures and partly wanting to keep it to myself and those who were there with me.

The chickens come to their end in the most peaceful, humane, quiet, quick,  non-violent and respectful manner that I could ever imagine.  And that’s all I will write about that.

They are then placed into scalding water to loosen their feathers, then into a device I can only think to call a chicken spinner, to de-feather them.

Once featherless, Lola begins the task of removing the organs.  By this point in the day, I felt like I had seen what I had come to witness, so I was utterly surprised at the incredible science lessons to come next.  Dorsey began explaining the anatomy of the chicken with so much excitement, that I immediately got excited too.   The first chicken contained one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen – its reproductive tract, filled with yolks, awaiting their turn in the ovaduct, wherein they form their shell.  This chicken had an unlaid egg, fully formed at the end of its ovaduct, as well.  Underneath those big yolks, were smaller to tiny little yolks all waiting their turn to travel through the ovaduct.  It was amazing.

Would be eggs

As Lola continued cleaning the birds, Dorsey explained that every part of the bird (with exception of the beak and spleen) is either used by them, or sold to a local restaurant.  Kome, a new Japanese restaurant in town takes the entire ovaduct for a dish they serve on their menu.  We watched as the liver was removed, then how the gizzard was cleaned of its rocks. (Chickens eat rocks which aid in the digestion of their food, as they do not have a stomach.)  Lola carefully cleaned the intestines, in a manner passed down to her by generations of Mexican heritage, emptying them of their contents, thoroughly rinsing with water, then further  cleaning them with lime juice and salt.

As a treat for the guests, Dorsey asked Lola to prepare the intestines, which she did simply by cooking in a skillet.

Once crisp and ready to eat, we each took a turn taking a bite.  They tasted like chicken, with hints of salt and lime and with a texture not unlike calamari.  Susan then brought out beers for us, and the afternoon quickly evolved in to a celebration.  We were celebrating the amazing chicken, which we had come to revere and respect, having witnessed what we had.   It felt like such an honor to eat this chicken.   And I feel so grateful for the experience.  This was a special day, in a way that is difficult to put into words.  I felt so totally connected to my food, Dorsey, Susan, Lola, Cecilia and Mike, who I shared this day and this experience with.   Again, it is hard to explain.

We each were given an unexpected gift of half a chicken, upon our departure.  Tonight, as I ate my roasted chicken, I felt grateful again, connected again and so very fortunate that we have food available to us, through our amazing local farmers,  that does not devalue the life of the food animal, but respects it.   Food really is love.

Chicken dinner

 

La Vida Local January 9, 2011

I’ve grown tired of calling my posts “No Grocery Store, Day 147″ etc.    I’m struggling to  keep this blog interesting, and with all the new folks interested in my eating locally.

I’ve eaten out a lot the last few days and nights with my dad in the hospital.  I tried to eat local wherever possible, and avoided hospital food, except for a couple of chicken salad sandwiches.

I had a great day at the SFC Farmer’s Market on Wednesday at the Triangle, and yesterday downtown.  I gave a couple of tours, and I think the folks enjoyed themselves, bought some good food and will be back.

Here is my haul for the week:

Farmer's Market Haul

Richardson’s Farm pork chops, CKC herbed chevre, Way Back When butter and cream, Kocurek Family Czech Bacon, Thunderheart Bison Tenderloins, Full Quiver Cheddar, Smith and Smith Farms chicken, (6 pounds!) Springfield Farms Carrots and Spinach, Tangerines and Tangelos.

What more could you want?  I have a garden full of lettuce, broccoli and some cabbage.  I’m all set!

 

 

East Austin Farm Tour April 16, 2010

I found my camera!  I’ve been doing my happy camera dance for 2 days.

So, I went on the East Austin Farm Tour, of Boggy Creek, Springdale, Rain Lilly, and Hausbar Farms.  One interesting thing I discovered on this farm tour, was the companion planting of vegetables with flowers.  I know a little about companion planting between vegetables herbs, and other vegetables.  I was so inspired after this tour to plant  flowering plants with my garden, that I got some sunflower plants and put them in the front bed.  I’m not through.

All of the farms had chickens, but not all had roosters, that I could find.  None as handsome as Mr. C0cky, above, for sure.

rows and rows

Perfect rows.  I’m not good at rows, but I don’t have acres planted, so I have no need for a trail between plants.

The food at each of these events was amazing, and all local.  There was a beet and goat cheese slider from Olivia, an all of the broccoli salad on a tostada from Jeffreys,  yummy sausage and marinated vegetables from Dai Due, and lots more deliciousness.

Jeffrey's contribution, broccoli salad

I think Carol Ann and Larry of Boggy Creek are the luckiest folks around. (albeit very hard working).   They get to wake up in this house every morning:

And see this view off their back porch:

Back side of Boggy Creek Farm

For those of  you thinking, darn that tractor is in the way of the view, to me the tractor is one of the best parts of that view.  I’m an aspiring farm girl at heart, and I want it all, the shed, the chickens, the tractor, the home, and the fields of crops.   Some day.

 

 
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