Week 5A of our Spring CSA

Howdy folks,

We’re excited about this week’s shares!

You’ll find: Kale, Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Salad mix, Green Garlic, Radishes, Hakurei Turnips, Mustard Greens, and Dill. Lots of different flavors to spice up your salads and stir-frys. Make sure to remove the rubber bands from your bunched vegetables (it will help them keep longer). To maximize the freshness of your CSA produce and to keep it from wilting, keep your vegetables in the crisper drawer of your fridge and treat your bunched greens like flowers – putting their stems in water. CO2 helps keep plants fresh, so blow air into your bag of lettuce before twisting it up and sealing it to keep the greens from wilting.

We had a great time at our Plant Sale last weekend, despite the rain. This Saturday looks like it will be sunny and beautiful, so we are planning on holding a Second Plant Sale at our urban farm from 10AM-2PM. We have organic heirloom vegetable varieties to sell and are welcoming Austin Gasakamp and his tropical plants and herbs to set up at the farm as well! Come get the seedlings you need to plant your garden and some free farmer advice to help get you start growing your own food at home.

Good news: I’m seeing small green tomatoes on plants already, potatoes are getting huge at the River Farm, and squash is moving right along! Melons are getting started in the greenhouse this week; Butternut Squash was done last week.

Thank you for your help spreading the word to friends about our CSA! We still have CSA shares available. We need your help to spread the word online and in-person!

Thanks so much your continued support of our local organic farm. We strive to grow the best foods possible for you and hope to be your farmers for years to come!

Blessings,

Farmer Katie

P.S. If you’d like to attend the Earth Day event at Mueller Farmers’ Market or Maker Faire, we can provide you with tickets in exchange for helping at our table!


 

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The only spaces on UT Austin’s campus where students can independently grow their own food – Concho Community Garden and the UT Microfarm – are being threatened! Both of these spaces have become essential for cultivating community and providing sustainability education on campus. Sign the petition to keep these farms from closing down, and help support Concho Community Garden by attending their 5th Anniversary Party this Sunday.

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Last weekend’s Spring Plant Sale was a lot of fun despite the rain, but we still have many healthy, organic vegetable seedling remaining for sale. Along with Farm Stand this Saturday from 10AM-2PM, we will be selling heirloom seedlings. Grow your own garden full of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, kohlrabi, lettuce, kale and rainbow chard! We will be joined by Austin Gaskamp and his incredible herbs and tropical plants (including coffee trees you can grow indoors!). See you Saturday!

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Interested in a great use of the green garlic and swiss chard in your CSA? Vanessa’s Black Bean Soup recipe – which can be made vegan – incorporates some of our favorite seasonal vegetables and spices into a delicious plant-based main course that’s perfect for dinner for your whole family. Make extra in advance and freeze it, for a healthy dinner during the work week.

Week 5A Spring CSA 2016 share-[1]Scapes,t [2] Red Romaine Lettuce, [3]Swiss Chard ,[4]Green Shallots, [5]Green Onions, [6]Buttercrunch Lettuce, [7]Kale, [8] Radishs, [9] Bok ChoyScreen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.13.36 PM

 

 

 

 

Yoga in the Hayloft

IMG_1165 (1)Yoga instructor and Green Gate workshare member, Abby Fraser, will be leading Yoga in the Hayloft!

Come find your breath in a community-building, all-levels yoga practice…and then swing by our bountiful farm stand (organic veggies, herbs, eggs, pastured meats)!


When: Beginning Saturday, November 21 at 9am.

Cost: $10 for CSA Members/$12 for Drop-Ins
What to Bring: Everyone should bring a mat (and a block if you like to use blocks as props)

Additional Details:

–  This yoga class will be a vinyasa flow style, 60 minute class, 9-10am…with some fun tunes (and rooster noises) in the background
– The classes leading up to the holidays will be Nov 21, Dec 5, Dec 12 and Dec 19.
– The 2016 schedule will be posted soon!

More About Abby:

Abby went through her teacher training course at BFree Yoga right here in Austin this summer. Abby is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but has lived in Austin for 10.5 years. She originally moved to Texas for work and graduate school and immediately fell in love with the city. When she’s not working on the farm or teaching yoga, she enjoys running, reading, playing the oboe, and camping the world’s most handsome boxer, Pancho the Pigbelly.

 

When A Green Gate Closes

How do you say goodbye to a farm that made a life-long dream come true?

How do you let go of land that has fed thousands of Austin families? To a house that was built before cars? To a barn built before tractors? To a slice of Austin history – weird and wonderful — that is threatened on all sides?

And how do you thank all the people who helped give this old farm a new life? Who planted their own dreams here, too? Who left with good food – for body and thought – and returned with goodwill and endless support?

These are the difficult questions our family is facing as we prepare for what could be Green Gate Farms’ last season here at what we refer to as the City Farm.

This spring, our former landlord – a corporate partnership of two local families who bought the 250-acre farm from Mrs. Carl Bergstrom in 1983 –  sold the High Meadows/Hidden Valley complex to an out-of-town developer. Roberts Communities, based in Scottsdale, AZ, plans to add 500 more manufactured homes and 120 RV lots to the remaining undeveloped parcels here, including the 5-acre homestead where we have lived and farmed since 2006.

Erin and I always anticipated this sad day would arrive. We named this little oasis Green Gate Farms because we wanted to create a gateway to sustainable farming and green ideas – a new kind of farm for a new era, “cultivating healthy food, community, and farmers.”

The Gate is Always Open at Green Gate Farms. That was our  motto, our radical method. Open the farm to everyone and see what magic happens in the fresh mix-up of people and ideas, work and play, city and country.

How open-armed have they come here to the urban fringe, the gritty, intensified edge between urban and rural. And how generously they have helped fulfill our dreams: of inspiring the next generation of farmers; of exciting the palates of food lovers; of providing healthy choices to the underserved; of awakening the passions and imaginations of thousand of schoolchildren hungry for a meaningful and authentic engagement with nature.

If you want to know what an oasis in a food desert looks like, zoom out on Google Maps and see how precariously 8310 Canoga Avenue is rooted in this rising sea of urban sprawl. What was once the Bergstrom place – one of the last remaining Swedish farms built along FM1336 a century ago – has been transformed into a smash-up of RV lots, mobile homes, storage units, shipping yards and light industry.

Despite wear and neglect, the farmhouse stands intact and original. The same is true with the beloved two-story red barn where Captain John Bergstrom played with his cousins before his fateful entry into World War II. Scott Roberts, CEO of Roberts Communities, says the barn must be torn down, as well as the surrounding out-buildings. The farm house will stay, but repurposed as a gift house or sales office. When we had to move out of it in August, more than a century of providing shelter for farmers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers came to an untimely end.

During the past decade leasing this certified organic farm, we’ve watched the tide of development swallow up hundreds of acres of surrounding woods and farmland. Austin desperately needs affordable housing. And it needs affordable local food, too. Are these two needs compatible in this city? Can they live together and thrive or is this concept just an urban planner’s paper dream?

We believe a peaceful co-existence is not only possible but necessary for a city to keep it soul. So do the city’s leaders. Access to local food ranks at the top of importance for the Imagine Austin blueprint that will guide the city during this unnatural phase of rampant growth.

We believe, too, in this very unAmerican idea that money can’t buy everything. That no amount of Greenbacks can replace what is lost when an acre of prime farmland gets paved over, it’s history, along with its vital ecology, buried in a concrete grave.

I was reminded of this fact recently while mowing a lush field and finding an old cap that had flown off my head while I was running from angry bees. I loved this cap – its dark shade of green set against the logo of Kings Canyon National Park.

Two summers ago I bought it during a family visit to California. We were visiting friends struggling to farm amid California’s record drought and took a side trip to Sequoia National Park. There, in the birthplace of the modern conservation movement, our kids came face to face with those living giants. We owe this gift to John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt and the Sierra Club, because they cared enough to save the trees before the captains of industry cut the last ones down.

Can this historic farm site be saved? My own experience tells me it can.

I grew up on a 100-acre farm steeped in early Pennsylvania history. When my parents divorced in 1969, they sold it to a first generation German family who spent the next 30 years restoring and preserving the aging farmhouse and outbuildings. Before they died and passed it on to their children, they made an enduring gift to everyone who loved that farm: they sold the development rights to a land trust – the first of its kind in Berks County.

Today, uninspired housing tracts blanket the Oley Valley, but my old farm stands as undivided as it was three centuries ago when Daniel Boone’s family settled in a cabin next door.

All my life, I’ve witnessed our nation’s growing population march mindlessly into the surrounding landscape. Philly in ‘70s. Atlanta in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Austin in the new millennium. Progress, we say. Always more land. The American mythology. The Texas ideology.

They said that about the red woods, too.

Shouldn’t we celebrate Austin’s agrarian history? Honor these sacred places and ensure they are shared? Don’t we want living reminders of how we got here and where we might need to go. Of the craftsmanship, stewardship, and ingenuity that has weathered the march of time? Like this farm’s hand-dug wells and cisterns that still hold water. Like the iconic windmill that still turns with each breath of wind.

A Longhorn Dad, I’m inspired by our university’s celebrated motto – “What starts here changes the world.” But as an urban farmer, I have a more modest vision. The healthy food and good ideas that start here on this modest patch of ground aren’t meant to change the world. But if they can change a family, a neighborhood, a community  – that is good enough for me.

We are encouraged to have a mayor, a sustainable food policy board, and outspoken environmentalists who say they want to conserve open spaces and restore health to our ailing food deserts.

So let it start here before it’s too late. The conversations. The compromises. The policies that promote smart growth by saving green spaces. 

When the green is gone, the green gates must close.

Let’s make sure our green gates stay open.

No Mo' Flowers

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.

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

FlowerVeggie Bouquets for the Hula Hoop Bride

Tessa, a Workshare member who traded food for work for several seasons, came to us with a simple request for her wedding: please create Peter Rabbit-inspired arrangements featuring veggies with flowers. She provided the ceramic bunny centerpiece and we went to town. So much fun to have a theme. And work with what we had: turnips, radishes, onions, celosia, beauty berry,….

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Our farm stand customer – Nancy from the RV park – helped us make sure that the bridesmaid’s bouquet was just right.

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The bouts were boxed and ready.

Bout for groomsmen, Kloppe wedding, 1015

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So that our beautiful friend of the farm…..

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could have as much fun as possible on her big day.

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And she did.