Notes from the Field 11/10/16

Howdy Folks,

Blister beetles have been storming the river farm during this fine raining week. The beetles mutilated the chard, everything else is hanging in and growing big for a ride to your dinner plate. At the city farm we have a few new treats growing strong. Cilantro, collards, head lettuce, and golden frill mustard should all be making their way into the shares over the next few weeks. The squash is tapering out, enjoy the rest while it lasts. And if you are ever looking to get your hands on more of Green Gate’s rocking vegetables we are beginning to wholesale with Vinaigrette ( and In.gredients ( Thank you for being a part of our CSA, we all look forward to continuing and building our relationship with y’all. Until next time.

-Farmer Ali

Camp Scholarship News Release

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Green Gate Farms Expands Camp Scholarship Program, Seeks Support from Local Businesses


Kate Grimes


8310 Canoga Avenue Austin, TX

78724 512-949-9831

Austin, Texas, July 5, 2016Green Gate Farms, one of Austin’s few certified organic community-based farms, is seeking to expand its camp scholarship program to benefit children living near its eastside location.

“We’re delighted that our new landlord, Roberts Resorts, has funded two summer camp scholarships for our neighbors and hope his generosity inspires others,” says farm co-founder and farm camp director Erin Flynn. “For many of our scholarship recipients, this will be their first camp experience.”

In addition to funding scholarships, such local businesses as Nine François Photography, are donating services. Nine Francois Photography, a local fine artist known for community service, is creating portraits of campers during their final week of Green Gate’s six-week summer season, July 18-22.

Green Gate Farms partnered with Hidden Valley High Meadows (HVHM) Residents’ Association to identify neighborhood children to attend camp. “We love having a farm where we live,” says Mrs. Elisia

Castillo, founder of the HVHM Residents’ Association. “Partnering with Green Gate Farms means our kids get to eat organic vegetables they harvest, play outdoors, care for goats, pigs and other animals, and have fun!”

Green Gate Farms Farm Camp self-funds up to 30 free weeklong scholarships each summer.  In 2015, it awarded 20 scholarships to UT Charter Elementary School students nominated by wellness instructor Rebecca Vore. “Summer Farm Camp has had a lasting impact on these kids and on their health,” said Vore. “The children pay attention to how they nourish themselves, and have more knowledge of food access and distribution systems.”

Additional farm-based programming also includes a Free Summer Art Farm Camp provided to neighbor children by artist and permaculture instructor Jenny Nazak. Using her own initiative and funds, Nazak created a free four-day summer camp that featured bilingual artwork instruction. As one child said, “If it weren’t for this camp, we’d have nothing to do, we’d be watching TV all day.”


Scholarship Goals

“The mission of our farm has been to serve people of all incomes,”  says farm co-founder Skip Connett. “Our partnerships — with Sustainable Food Center, Dell Children’s Hospital, the City of Austin and other organizations — have allowed us to do this by bringing our food to workplaces and to new markets. Now, it’s time to do the same with our camps.”

Voted “Best of Austin” by Austin Chronicle, Green Gate Farms Farm Camps has been attended by more than 700 children since its inaugural weeklong camp in 2010. Children, ages 5-15, learn about local food and organic systems while mastering projects on the seven-acre vegetable, flower and livestock farm in east Austin. The farm’s nonprofit organization, New Farm Institute (NFI) oversees its educational initiatives, which include day and weeklong camps offered during AISD holidays and summer. Attendance for the week is $400; discounts are given for siblings, multiple weeks, farm membership and volunteering.

“Our long term goal is to double the enrollment of our camps and do the same for our scholarship students” says NFI Executive Director Erin Flynn. “There is no other farm-based camp like this in Austin and we want to ensure our neighbors, especially those who can walk here, participate.”

Local individuals and businesses are invited to help the farm meet its goal of raising $6,000 to cover expenses for fifteen children to attend a weeklong camp. Donors benefits include a free farm tour and publicity at the farm’s upcoming 10th Anniversary Party, September 24, 2016, 4:00-10:00.


About Green Gate Farms: GGF is a certified organic farm founded in 2006 on a historic site in an underserved area of East Austin. The farm’s mission is to educate, assist and inspire citizens and a new generation of sustainable farmers.

About HVHM Residents’ Association: Founded by the long-time residents of the neighborhood and run by a Board that represents the interests and concerns of the Hidden Valley, High Meadows community.

About Nine François Photography: Founded by Nine Francois, a photographer working, teaching, and telling stories through images in Austin, Texas.

About Roberts Resorts: Arizona-based developer specializing in luxury RV lots and manufactured homes purchased the property where Green Gate Farms is located in April 2015.

Week 18B Summer CSA 2016

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Welcome to Week 18B of our Spring/Summer CSA – this is officially the last week of pick ups and the last week the farm will be open until September. Besides meat & milk pick ups, Green Gate will close until September 20, 2016 when our Fall CSA starts up. Our Fall Veggie and Egg CSA runs from Sept. 20 to Dec. 10 (12 weeks) – sign up online and grab your spot today!

We’ve really appreciated the influx of messages from our CSA members asking to secure a spot for Fall. On Monday we had volunteers help us plant about 1,000 melons (cantaloupe & honeydew) which should be ready late September. Yesterday Thomas & Skip got one whole hoophouse planted with Fall tomatoes. Tomorrow I’m “potting up” about 800 pepper plants for transplanting in the next few weeks. It begins again – so quickly!

Thanks so much for your support through this season. We won’t stop working hard to ensure an abundant Fall. Enjoy the rest of your summer and look for an email from us about an end-of-season potluck soon.

Farmer Katie

Week 17A Summer CSA 2016

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Dear CSA Members:

It took ten years but finally the inevitable arrived this season: your dedicated farmers are not able to complete the season as expected. We have faced drought and flood before, but never quite such an extreme spring as this one. Now almost a month without rain and triple digit temperatures, the tempestuous mix of torrential rains and gale-force winds seems in the distant past. At the river farm, we don’t have to look far for reminders (see photos adjacent).

Sometimes, what happens off the field is equally challenging. Erin and I spent the past year fighting to save the city farm. We succeeded but our staff had to pick up the slack. City Farm Manager Katie Tritsch carried the greatest weight and did an amazing job — from her work in the greenhouse and fields to managing staff and workshares to dealing with the daily headaches of making the farm run smoothly. Needless to say we are going to miss her greatly when she heads out on a year-long road trip in September. Katie stuck with us through some pretty rough patches and always kept smiling, even when I’m sure she felt like crying, especially these past six weeks while I’ve been almost completely out of the picture while recovering from surgery.

At the river farm, Ali Stone, our replacement for Jason, who moved on to farm in New York, also has done a remarkable job — with Thomas Schroeder at her side —  fighting weeds that tower over them and keeping morale up when things got pretty tough out there, particularly after one of our employees got bitten by a rattlesnake and had to stay in the hospital a few days. We’re grateful that Ali will be filling Katie’s boots at the city farm this fall and Thomas will be taking Ali’s place at the river farm.

As a member of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program you inherently share these experiences with the farm, for better and for worse. You see the outcomes of our labor, our challenges, and our successes in your shares. We are incredibly grateful that you take local food and organic farming so seriously that you are willing to share the risks that come with each season. It goes without say but bears repeating: we keep growing, regardless of what mother nature and human nature throw our way, because we you haven’t given up on us. And, too, because farmers are optimists at heart. Each seed holds that promise for a new beginning. This fall will be amazing. We just gotta believe it. And so we are already planting as we speak.

This is why it’s with the heaviest of hearts I write to inform you that we’re ending our Spring/Summer CSA two weeks early. Our last distribution will be Saturday, July 23rd.

For some of you who pick up on Alternating A week schedules, this will be your last week to pick up. We’ll be sending an email via Farmigo shortly with details about what this means for your account and what to expect over the last two weeks: namely, storage shares!

Thanks so much for your membership through thick and thin. We hope you plan to join us for an abundant Fall season; no doubt the best time of year to farm in Central Texas.

Your farmers,
Skip Connett & Erin Flynn

So Much to Celebrate!


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!

Farmer Erin