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
Bring a friend, bring an instrument, bring a dish to share. Let’s celebrate!
Unfortunately, the rains that dumped 15″ on the nearby Bergstrom airport, also wiped out the fields here at the old Bergstrom homestead. Spring floods, summer drought, winter floods proved to be too much.
After we clean up the mess and conquer our depression, we will update you on future growing plans for the upcoming season. We are down but we are not out!
Thanks for your support and patience.
The lack of rain now exceeds the lack we suffered during the 2011 drought. Back then we held our breath as Bastrop flames raced toward our farm. We could smell the fire and feel that loss was imminent. And there was nothing we could do but wait. Though more than half the trees on our farm died of drought, we were spared.
This past week, I suffered a bout of PTSD as great smoke plumes, once again, blanketed our farms in Bastrop and in Austin. Again, we were fortunate. Those who suffered most are east of our farm, in Smithville. Our hearts go out to them all.
If you are new to Austin or don’t have a visceral reaction to smoke, you might enjoy reading Randy Fritz’s book, Hail of Fire. He recounts how his family lost everything in the 2011 fire, including his beloved Lost Pines.
What a strange time we are living in.
To add a little perk to this week’s bouquet, we’ve added beauty berries. Yes, you can eat the little purple balls, you could even make jam. But this week, they are all about beauty. Finding bits of pretty in a crispy landscape aching for reprieve.
I am counting the hours till I leave for the ASCFG conference in Madison, WI. Not only will I get to see the Arnofsky’s present — always a treat — we will learn about their new peony farm in Minnesota. Yes, they farm in Blanco, Texas and almost Canada. Another expert I love to hear from is Missouri’s Mimo Davis. She is a ball of fire and is always up to something interesting. This conference is one of my favorites, which is one reason I’m happy to leave.
The other reason is sneezing. This week my allergies about did me in. What is it? Tree pollen? Mold? Ragweed? No idea what has caused this misery but rain is promised next week so perhaps we will all be released soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s bouquet, which includes some treats from our River Farm.
The stiff green leaves are loquat, a tree every Austinite should plant because it’s hard to kill and the fruit is yummy. The white fringe is boneset, a wildflower used extensively by native populations for fever relief. And here’s an interesting internet tidbit: The name Boneset is derived from the great value of this remedy in the treatment of a species of influenza,… which from the pain attending it was commonly called Break-Bone Fever.” What I’ve noticed is that this is a thirsty plant so be sure to keep the water high and clean in the vase.
Other petals include yellow sunn hemp, orange marigold, purple/pink celosias and varieties of zinnias. Be sure to play with arrangement as we’ve got several lengths going on. I just love the way celosia bounces so you may be seeing more of that in the coming weeks.
Many thanks to our model here, who also happens to be our Flower Photographer, Kerstin Wiggins!
This week – just one from October – is expected to be near 100 degrees all week. Frankly, I’ve had enough. Enough of sweat rolling down my body, enough of my brain feeling like lead.
My favorite cure for these heat blues has been long soaks in the curve of the Colorado River that hugs the western border of our River Farm. About 25 miles east of our intown location, we plan to harvest and plant more at this Bastrop location where we manage about 50 acres. For the past six years, Farmer Skip has worked like a demon adding fences and irrigation and hoop houses. We’re hoping this season we’ll finally get some flower bulbs going there, too. Keep your fingers crossed.
To kick-off the first share of the season, you may find yellow sunn hemp in your bouquet. Farmer Skip has been growing this as a cover crop (e.g., a crop planted to restore soil). These hardy blooms are
cheerful, durable and dangle from 8 foot high stalks! Best of all, they sequester carbon so they’re doing their part to mitigate the effects of climate disruption.
Farmer Skip with First Flower Shares, Fall 2015
As you can see, the first share is a collection of long stemmed color — celoisas, hemp, ageratum, zinnia, sage and other goodies. Enjoy.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
LAST WEEK: GREEN GATE FARM STAND
ON SALE THIS WEEK!
- Potatoes ( Purple Viking, Yukon, Red
- Cucumbers (Suyo Long. Market, Pickling)
- 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
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
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
- 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!