So Much to Celebrate!

skipconnett

Ten years ago, we celebrated Farmer Skip’s 50th as we moved into the now 114-year-old Bergstrom farmhouse. The house was empty yet we were filled with anticipation.

Because when I had asked how Skip he wanted to celebrate his mid-life birthday, he said, “I want to raise my own pig on my farm and invite all my friends to celebrate.”

This request came from a man who wore a tie to work, wrote speeches at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and hadn’t lived on a farm in nearly forty years. While some friends suspected a mid-life crisis, I knew that this yearning was not new. The man I married would not feel complete without realizing his dream to farm, so we set the wheels in motion.

Ten years ago, there were no friends. I had been away from Austin for many years so it was my family that gathered to cut his birthday cake. Ten years ago, there was no pig and Green Gate Farms was nothing more than a rototiller and a crazy dream.

Today Skip is 60. And on Saturday we will celebrate him and the countless friends who helped create a community farm through generosity and passion. There will be a pig roast thanks to chef Tony Grasso. And there will be good news.

A year of negotiations between Green Gate Farms, Roberts Resorts — the farm property’s new owner — and the City of Austin bore fruit last week.

TBG Partners, hired by our landlord, devised a plan that will incorporate our four-acre farm into Roberts’ larger development of tiny homes, RVs and manufactured homes. This plan includes Green Gate Farms and the historic 1902 Swedish buildings – barn, farmhouse and cottages.  The drawings will be unveiled at Saturday’s Potluck Party (4-10pm).

In addition, our long-awaited desire to extend our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to SNAP (a.k.a. food stamp) users has been realized thanks to the Sustainable Food Center. Did you know that 25% of Austinites qualify for SNAP? Now, these vouchers can be redeemed and doubled at our farm stand because of funding from the Double Dollar program. Be sure to tell your favorite musician, artist, teacher, military vet, Americorps worker and other SNAP users that we are hosting a sign-up party and free farm tour on June 11, 11-2 that will ensure their food budget goes twice as far.

As we look forward to another decade of feeding and growing community, a beloved CSA member has arranged for her Aztec dance troop to bless the farm.  Following this, we will gather for a Barn Hug. All hands are needed to encircle the Big Red Barnthat has provided so much fun, shelter, and service. (Anyone have a drone that can photograph this event?).

So spread the word. It’s time for new beginnings – birthdays, graduations and a hopeful
future.

Bring a friend, bring an instrument, bring a dish to share. Let’s celebrate!

Farmer Erin

Rest in Peace Buddy

Party dog

His death seemed likely often yet I was stunned when it came.

There was the time he ate Avery’s pin cushion, a stuffed frog full of straight pins. We gave him a matter of hours before his gut was shredded. Instead, he nonchalantly threw up broken, half digested pins then returned to his sprawl on the floor, engaging in his favorite pastime: lunging at flies.

There was the first time he was hit by a car. His whimpering on the porch late one night was our only clue that he had been injured. Then there was the second time he was hit by a car…

Buddy was not promising from the beginning. One fine spring morning in 2008, an animal control officer called me from a rural vet’s office. Word was I wanted to adopt a Newfoundland. I had been on a secret quest for a lifeguard for our small children who swam in the Colorado at our River Farm. My plan was to surprise them with a fluffy puppy; however, what was on offer was a skeletal, abused black mop they estimated to be about two years old.

“We rescued him from an animal hoarder who stopped feeding him,” said the officer as he struggled to stand. Apart from his enormous head and floppy mouth, this mutt was not what I had in mind. But, he was the Keith Richards of dogs – mangy, beat up, and somehow irresistible. Needless to say, everyone was surprised when I brought him home.

What no one could anticipate was how after a few months of heaping bowls of giant dog food and love, he’d blossom into the largest lap dog you’d ever seen. As Skip says, he became our Clifford. True, he was a drooling, dirt encrusted, 145-pound black mutt that could incite terror by his mere presence, but if that’s all you saw, you missed the point entirely. He was all lover. He never wasted time with balls or jumping for Frisbees. He lived to smear slobber across your thighs in his persistent, clumsy attempts to nuzzle. His favorite place was in your arms, preferably in the middle of the massaging flow of the Colorado River.

Lucky for him, our community farm is full of visitors, campers and tubs of water. We created a “Grooming Basket” loaded with brushes and combs to not only assure children that he was gentle, but to coopt them into grooming, which required a battalion of helpers. We encouraged the kids to brush and release, brush and release. Over the years, several birds nests were found lined with his fluffy clumps.

Bud loved all farm guests. He took any quilt on the ground as an invitation to flop down in the middle, crush toys, knock over picnics, insist on love and drool on squealing vistors.

Though he was rarely the brightest bulb in the pack (why did he occasionally mark customers? Why did he repeatedly get sprayed in the face by skunks?), Bud taught me about discrimination and presumption as he unnerved canine and human alike.

“Does he bite?” the Hispanic teenagers would shout from across the street when I took him lumbering through our neighborhood.  When we passed by the RV park next to our home, a chorus of RV-sized mini canines rang out in a frenzy of barking as he made his rounds. Chihuahuas were the worst, teeth bared, straining to get him. Bud stared down at them dumbfounded and moved on. He was a lover, not a fighter.

During a recent post-vet appointment meander down South Congress, a woman across the street shrieked. Bud and I looked around wondering what was the emergency. But she was yelling at us – “Is that a bear? I thought that was a bear. WHAT IS THAT?”

Even his canine partner, Boonie, a white Italian sheepdog (our first rescue dog), felt compelled to assert his dominance daily by humping Buddy’s face. As Boonie focused on thrusting, Buddy lay sprawled on our dusty dirt driveway, head between two huge paws not even flinching. You could almost see Bud’s little brown eyes roll in his head as he said to himself, “OK, little man, get it over with it.” Though visitors were appalled, we came to find comfort in the ritual “Face Hump,” which was as predictable as roosters crowing and people staring.

What folks (and Boonie) failed to understand, is that Buddy was really a big baby, who could by turns be embarrassed and silly.

Like when we had him shaved to the skin to alleviate his hot spots. The groomer had transformed his lionlike mane into an effette poodle leaving only fluffy ears and a pouf at the end of his tail. He was mortified. He raced into the house and hid for several days.

Or the time Skip bagged a deer and was looking forward to presenting this hard-won roast to the family. The meat was perfect, glistening and cooling on the kitchen island. Skip stepped out, forgetting that Bud’s mouth was table level. When the meat went missing we looked everywhere. In the garden, in the driveway where he took his dirt bathes. But, no, he had shoved it under Ethan’s bed, certain it would never be found.

He loved Ethan’s bed. That’s where he hid his treasures – purloined dinners, rotting carcasses excavated from the compost pile, gnawed crayons…Thunderstorms and firecrackers sent him racing into Ethan’s bedroom as he tried to shove himself under the twin bed. When that didn’t work, he thought nothing of catapulting his dripping, filthy self onto the mattress and under the sheets.

I loved our Bud, dirt and all. How I wish he were here to trek in more. Instead, he took an evening amble this week that ended badly. We guess he must’ve gone down to the river to cool off and a snake got him in the check. He died in our arms gasping as venom swelled his head and shut his throat. He deserved a better end, but given his proclivity for mishap and unprovoked aggression, perhaps not surprising. Our sweet Bud is gone and he has left a giant size hole in our hearts.

Christmas on the farm

CSA Newsletter Week 18A

FIELD NOTES

Hey there folks, So we’ve made it to the last week. The fields are looking pretty tired at this point and I think so are most of us. As we see more triple digit days we’re already getting our first fall crops in the ground. I’m actually in the process of planting tomatoes in our new hoop house as I write this. We’ve also got more melons, peppers, and eggplants in the ground as of last week.

Thank you so much again for sticking with us through a real tough growing season. It’s your support that kept us going through the rains and now the sweltering heat. This week you’ll see the tail end of our summer crops. By Friday I’ll have picked every last fruit or vegetable from the fields.

I hope you enjoy your last week of fresh produce for the summer and please stick with is in the fall. Hopefully the weather will be on our side and we can have a lot more to show for it.

Jason

CSA INGREDIENT RECIPE SHARE

We are winding down our summer season at Green Gate Farms, so you are probably recognizing some of the same usual suspects in your CSA shares:  potatoes, green onions, okra, shallots, and peppers… just to name a few. Here we have this week’s newest recipes to help you mix it up a little!

CALL FOR BOOKKEEPING INTERN

Green Gate Farms is seeking an office intern with bookkeeping, and Quickbooks experience. In exchange for 4 hours a week of your skill and time we will provide $25 worth of vegetables, plus other benefits. Contact admin@greengatefarms.org or call 512-484-2746 for more information.

THE FALL CSA BEGINS SEPTEMBER 21ST

RESERVE YOUR FALL YUMMIES, JOIN THE FALL CSA TODAY At just $25 a week, and 14 pick-up spots (and more forming) all over town, our CSA is affordable and convenient.

Contact: members@greengatefarms.net

LAST WEEK: GREEN GATE FARM STAND

ON SALE THIS WEEK!

  • Okra
  • Potatoes ( Purple Viking, Yukon, Red
  • Cucumbers (Suyo Long. Market, Pickling)
  • Shallots
  • Squash
  • Plus more…You’ll find all of the veggies from our CSA share plus more, including eggs, meat, and honey.
SNAP/WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program — thank you for organizing this Sustainable Food Center — accepted as are all other forms of payment.

GREEN GATE FARM STAND

8310 Canoga Ave, near E. MLK and Decker Lane
Tuesdays, 3 – 6pm, Fridays/Saturdays, 10 – 2pm
Call 512-484-2746 to place advance orders

Donation Request:

Do you have extra freezer space at your home, or homestead? Green Gate Farms is in need of your help, as we will be receiving an influx of CSA meat, and though it will soon be going to a new home, we don’t have the storage space at the moment to accommodate it all. Please consider making a donation of space today.

Contact Green Gate Farms at 512-484-2746.

FLOWER CSA SHARES STILL BLOOMIN’

Learn more about your flower share from this week’s Flower Share Blog!

MEAT SPECIAL: WHOLE & HALF GUINEA HOG

The meat from our rare-breed Guinea Hogs has an unmatched flavor and is perfect for grilling. Lucky for you, we have a few whole meat shares available from smaller animals (about 60 pounds). Here’s more info….

LOOKING FOR A HEALTHIER FAT? TRY LARD
Our Guinea Hogs produce the most amazing lard. Our freezers are full so we can offer this healthy alternative — less saturated fat than butter — for just $2/LB. To learn more: Click Here.

 

FUN STUFF AROUND AUSTIN

JULY —

  • Farmshare Austin’s Second Annual Farm Raiser, Friday, July 31 Farmshare Austin will host its second annual Farm Raiser featuring square dancing, live music, BBQ from Tony Grasso, plus more. More information

AUGUST —

  • in.gredients 3rd Anniversary Party, Saturday, August 1, 6-9pm! Find out more information here!
  • Austin Pet Expo at Palmer Event Center, Saturday, August 1, 10-6pm. Find out more information about this free event here!
  • Several upcoming GREEN BY DESIGN workshops, for how to design your “green” home, by AUSTIN GREEN ENERGY BUILDING throughout the month of August. For more information about registration and sessions, click here!

UPCOMING —

CSA NEWSLETTER WEEK 17B

FIELD NOTES

Howdy folks,

Thanks for sticking with us to the end. This is the second to last week of the CSA for most members but the last week for some! Alternating “B” week members will be receiving their storage shares this week. Storage shares will be packed in paper bags and filled with goodies you can store to commemorate the end of the Spring/Summer season – potatoes, shallots, honey, herbs, butternut squash, and pickles to name a few possibilities.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed your farm fresh veggies and will join us again in the Fall! The rain made it a tough season to get through, but we’re looking forward to increased abundance in the months ahead.

Until next time,

Farmer Katie

RECIPESHARE

POTATO SALAD

We here at Green Gate Farms expect that by now you have a lot of potatoes stored up, which, let’s be honest, is never a bad thing. We’re in the heart of BBQ/cookout season, and what better way to eat potatoes this time a year than as potato salad. This week on the Green Gate Farm Newsletter blog we have a plethora of potato salad recipes from around the world for you try.

  • German Potato Salad: In high school I took German, and one of my favorite things to say was “Kartoffelsalat,” which means potato salad. In honor of Texas’ German heritage we thought this recipe should be first.
  • Indian Style Cumin Ginger Potato Salad: Who doesn’t love a warm samosa? But if you are looking for a healthier alternative, try this recipe for a unique take on the potato salad tradition.
  • Ethiopian Potato Salad: I used to live in West Philadelphia, which has a large Ethiopian population, and a few awesome Ethiopian restaurants. Here another West Philly-er shares the secrets of potato salad the Ethiopian way.
  • Olivye – Ukranian Potato Salad: When I think of potatoes, I think of Eastern Europe. This recipe can be found frequently in New York, and other urban areas where Eastern Europeans immigrated to the US. It’s everything you’d want in a potato salad, plus a little more.
  • All-American Potato Salad ala Martha Stewart: This is the potato salad I grew up with, only this recipe is a little bit more natural, because it’s a Martha Stewart recipe. My mother would have made it with Miracle Whip and Kraft yellow mustard.

FALL CSA COMING SOON

RESERVE YOUR FALL YUMMIES, JOIN THE FALL CSA TODAY The Fall season begins September 21, 2015. At just $25 a week, and 14 pick-up spots (and more forming) all over town, our CSA is affordable and convenient. Contact: members@greengatefarms.net

WHAT’S IN YOUR MEAT SHARE?
JULY MEAT CSA

SPECIAL: GRASS FED BEEF from Chickamaw Farm & Ranch
Chickamaw raises Irish Dexter cattle on their farm-ranch, fully pasture fed on soils and fauna treated BioDynamically. Chickamaw’s cattle are gently raised and never subjected to:  antibiotics, steroids, insecticides, pesticides, hormones or GMOs of any nature.  They are also never fed soybeans, corn or any other grain, they are totally grass fed from nursing to the butcher shop.  Chickamaw Farm-Ranch & Wildlife is in the process of becoming Demeter Certified BioDynamic and certified organic in addition.   Situated in the Lost Pines area of Bastrop County.  They are all about nutrition dense foods and flavor. Chickamaw is a member of 1% for the Planet, and can be featured in this short video (fast forward to minute 11).

PORK, from Green Gate Farms
Our rare-breed Guinea Hog is definitely not “the other white meat.”  These pastured hogs produce meat that is darker, richer tasting, and more tender than the stuff passing for pork in stores.  Guinea Hogs are listed on the Slow Food USA: Ark of Taste and rank high in taste tests compared with other heritage and commercial hogs.

You can meet your meat on Saturdays at noon when we give a tour (free for CSA members). Our Guinea Hogs, also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast.  Ours love attention and will roll over when you pet them!

CHICKEN, from Taylor Farm
Taylor Farm a small farm located in Blue Texas, between Elgin and Lexington. They raise free range organically fed layer hens for tasty nutritious eggs and fresh, pastured pork and grass fed beef on a small scale. Featured this month, seasonal pastured broiler hens. Taylor Farm only use organic practices on their land; no hormones or antibiotics. EVER!

WE’RE HIRING

OFFICE MANAGER

We are hiring a part-time 15-20 hour a week Office Manager for our urban farm. For more information about this position click here.

CALL FOR BOOKKEEPING INTERN

Green Gate Farms is seeking an office intern with bookkeeping, and Quickbooks experience. In exchange for 4 hours a week of your skill and time we will provide $25 worth of vegetables, plus other benefits. Contact admin@greengatefarms.org or call 512-484-2746 for more information.

FUN STUFF AROUND AUSTIN

JULY —

  • July Green Drinks with Compost Pedallers, Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 6:00pm-8:00pm More Information

  • San Antonio Eco-Summit, Friday, July 24, 2015, 8:00am-4:00pm More information

  • Bastrop River Rally, Sunday, July 26, 2015 – 9:00am-4:00pm More Information

  • Handmade with Love: Italian Gelato Making with Dolce Neva, July 28, 2015 6:30pm-8:30pm More Information

  • Farmshare Austin’s Second Annual Farm Raiser, Friday, July 31 Farmshare Austin will host its second annual Farm Raiser featuring square dancing, live music, BBQ from Tony Grasso, plus more. More information

UPCOMING —

 

CSA Newsletter Week 15B

FIELD NOTES

2015StartsHowdy folks,

Only 4 more CSA pick ups left of the summer season (if you signed up at the beginning your last share will include a storage share). I must admit I’m excited to clear out the fields at the Urban Farm and start fresh again for Fall. I love how dynamic the agricultural landscape is; how a field of cover crops transitions to long, clean rows of vegetables. Then, how quickly nature takes over and covers the bare ground with “weeds” once cultivation stops.

We’ve seeded a few thousand tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and melons for Fall thus far. This week Jason and I nailed down our field plans and place a seed order for the next round of greenhouse work: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc. I hope you’re looking forward to leafy greens again in September, I know I am!

Look for a similar mix of crops in your veggie share this week. We’re happy to finally have some squash and lots of sweet peppers! Let us know if there’s anything we can do to make the last of your Summer CSA more enjoyable.

Until next time,

Farmer Katie

RECIPE SHARE

COOKING WITH LONG BEANS

A few of you have written us to ask what to do with long beans. Long beans aren’t that good raw, so we made an internet list of recipes for you to try.

MEAT SPECIAL: 062414-farm-animals-5WHOLE & HALF HOG FOR SALE

The meat from our rare-breed Guinea Hogs has an unmatched flavor and is perfect for grilling. Lucky for you, we have a few whole meat shares available from smaller animals (about 60 pounds). Here’s more info….

CULINARILY CURIOUS? TRY PORK FAT
At just $2/LB Pork Fat is a versatile product. Here is a list of ways to use pork fat in your home and kitchen:

WE’RE HIRING

HIRINGWe are hiring a part-time 15-20 hour a week Office Manager for our urban farm. 

For more information about this position click here.

 

Road Not Taken

After so many gray, rainy days, we’re celebrating yellow. Time for new choices. With so many changes afoot on the farm, Robert Frost’s yellow wood inspires…

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

062915flowers-1