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



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.


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


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


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.



  • 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



Foreign and Domestic: Pigs with Class — and Not

Foreign and Domestic: Pigs with Class — and Not

Halfway into the fourth season of Downton Abbey, Erin and I finally have found something in common with those ruined aristocrats: Pigs. Heritage pigs, to be exact.

This week’s episode not only has Jazz infiltrating the Manor but the improbable “pig” word rolling off Countess Grantham’s ultra-refined lips. Yup,  our royal farmers are in the hog-raising business.

If Grantham has his hand in it, you can guess this foray will prove imporkcunious. And wasn’t it surprising that the Granthams would choose the Tamworth breed (the world’s oldest) over the more famous pug-nosed Yorkshire? The Tam, afterall, is the result of a cross with an Irish pig, while the eponymous Yorksire was started in their backyard.

The history of domestic pigs is as fascinating as the animals themselves. Even more interesting is how their wild forebear, the Eurasian Boar, has played a central role in European culture, food, and mythology. This Christmas, Erin gave me “The Golden-Bristled Boar”, a book chronicling its history. (Coincidently, the Paris-based author, Jeffrey Greene, also wrote a book on Bamberger ranch, which explains his frequent references to our Texas-sized wild hog problem.

Just hours before watching the Downton Abbey pig scene, Erin and I had released our latest litter of heritage hogs onto fresh pasture at the river farm. It was, in many ways, a new and long-awaited chapter in our 8-year pig enterprise.

First and foremost, these pigs are a unique hybrid, a genetic mix-up of wild and domestic — the farming equivalent of an inter-racial marriage that was completely unexpected. On Xmas morning 2012, we were greeted with an anonymous gift– a baby wild boar that had found its way across busy Decker Lane and into our pig pens. A victim of suburban sprawl, his turf had been reduced to the scrubby floodplain of Elm Creek. Green Gate offered not only reliable food but the protective services of Spot, our  1000-pound Duroc, who adopted him at first sight.

Our guest soon had a name as well. Erin called him Ugly because, well, he was at first. The name stuck. With good food and fine company, however, Ugly grew into quite a stud.  Standoffish, hypervigilant, and slightly menacing, he had but one purpose – to expand his gene pool – and he began practicing almost from day one on sows five times his size.

Fast forward three months and we had on hand a lean, mean breeding machine surrounded by a dozen bored sows and their lazy, overweight male partners. Ugly literally ran circles around them — a blitzkreig mounting campaign so swift and incessant it can only be described as acrobatic.

If you’ve never seen the newborns of wild boars, you might think their forebears were chipmunks. They possess identical brown horizontal strips that slowly fade beneath a coarse coat more gray than “gold.” By the time Ugly attacked Erin and sealed his fate, he was the father of nearly 30 offspring.

In less than six months, our uninvited guest had nearly doubled the size of our herd and single-handedly created a hybrid line with increased vigor and, we hope, a uniquely Green Gate taste.  Which made it that much harder to send him to the butcher this winter. Ugly was an orphan whose uptown ambitions brought him in from the wild. Seeing that wildness up close gave us a rare chance to better appreciate the “last ferocious beast in the forest.”

This spring we will be offering the first shares of this new line. In addition to spent grain from Hops and Grain brewery, we are finishing them off on a certified organic cover crop of rye grass, Essex rape, daikon radish and purple top turnips. In pig world, that’s about as upper-class a diet as you can find around here.

Lord Grantham would be envious.


Pigs on Pasture at Green Gate River Farm

Pigs on Pasture at Green Gate River Farm




July Meat CSA: Update from Farmer Erin & Farmer Skip

Yes, you will have bacon! Lots of it, thanks to the contribution made by Obama, our recently departed four-year-old heritage-breed boar. (top right)

We loved Obama. Though he was large (850 pounds) and appeared menacing (his tusks jutted in all directions), he was as gentle as a kitten. He loved to have his belly scratched at every opportunity. Our son Ethan was in second grade when he bestowed our newborn piglets with a presidential theme. That’s how we came to have Mamie Eisenhower and Obama living at the farm.

People always ask: “Isn’t it difficult taking your animals to the butcher?” (Yes, I cry every time.)
Followed by: “I could never do that, especially eating an animal that you’ve named.”

B.B.F. (Before Becoming a Farmer), I might have said something similar. But now, I can’t imagine caring for an animal such as Obama and not giving this living creature, who makes the ultimate sacrifice, the simple courtesy of a name.

So, hopefully you’ll enjoy your bacon, chops and ribs more knowing that Obama was a cherished part of our farm, much like Kay Roger’s steer that will grace your plate as T-bone and ground this month (Skip relays that story below).

Knowing Your Beef

Kay and her cowboys had already separated the heifers by the time I pulled onto Cross Prairie Road. The morning was still early and although it would surpass 100 degrees later in the day, the air down in the glen still cool. I backed the trailer to the squeeze shoot and the two men, weathered from years of working cattle, slipped into the holding pen, clutching long prods and measuring their steps as they approached the young bulls. The Brangus heifers were jet black, muscular, and blowing hot air through their wet nostrils. 

These were Kay’s babies, raised almost like pets from the day they were born. A year of hauling hay, moving them to new pastures, watering and keeping a watchful eye – all the caring was abruptly over and these boys knew it. They were scared at first. Then they were angry.

After we got the biggest one loaded and the squeaky door slid shut and the trailer shook and rattled with bull madness, the older cowboy interrupted our chatter. “You better get some air in him before he bursts.” He saw our confused looks and added: “You need to get on the road and cool him down.” 

Yes, this was no time to linger. 

“I told him he was going to the cattle auction,” Kay joked.

Staring at this beautiful beast, smelling the cud from his flared nostrils, watching his eyes searching for a way out, I could understand why she didn’t want to take him to the butcher. Her attachment had only grown stronger after the herd had survived the Bastrop fire. Just a few hundred yards up this hill the fire had finally died, but not before destroying her house and barn and surrounding woods

Like most Bastrop residents, Kay had to come to terms with the chard landscape and make a decision. To rebuild or move. To quit farming or trust that the drought would end soon. And now nearly two years later that black ghost still returned on days like today when a hot dry wind blew up in the afternoons. When suddenly yesterday was today and flames were rolling down like a wave and how in those precious few minutes before fleeing empty handed she ran to the pasture and opened the gate. 

“You want to say a last goodbye,” I said half teasingly as I pulled the trailer past her.

“Noooo!” She forced a smile and then I heard in a quiet voice. Goodbye, Bull.”

The ride to Smithville Meat Locker is only 10 miles. In 20 minutes, I would be pulling to the rear of the yellow brick building, past stacks of split oak and the smokehouse. Everything in reverse now – backing up to the squeeze shoot, a sticky tag with the number 12 slapped on the rump, the squeaky trailer door reopened, and all 800 pounds of flesh swishing past me until another rusty gate closed. Even before I had pulled away there was the switching sound of the prod and the Heh Heh Heh of a man’s voice. A heavy door shut and all quiet outside. Just the smell of smoked beef floating through the shade trees and drawing my dog’s nose to the window. 

I’m telling you the story of this beef because I want you to prepare it as best you can. This meat deserves no less. With those first delicious bites, close your eyes and listen to the sound of rain, of teeth ripping grass – that greenest of grass that covered the blackened fields. Think for a moment of the joy and sadness this animal brought its owners. And how all across this land, so profoundly diminished of its herds, the ranchers and the cowboys and their cattle need to be remembered.

Eating Francis

We were sitting around the kitchen table counting okra, eight to a bag, when suddenly Avery cried, “Mommy, I don’t want to eat Francis!”   As her five-year-old butterscotch- colored eyes spilled tears, I realized we were living a page from “Charlotte’s Web.”  How did this happen?

Eight months ago, we lived in a beautiful bungalow in one of Atlanta’s coziest neighborhoods. My husband Skip had a commanding view of the city from his top floor office at the Centers for Disease Control.  My freelance writing career was humming along.  And after years of shelling out a fortune for daycare, Avery and her four-year-old brother Ethan would soon walk to the finest (free) elementary school in the state.  We loved our friends and neighbors, who were funny, smart, accomplished, similar.  Life was good.

Except for the nagging little voice in Skip’s head.  He confessed that daily he heard, “You want a farm but you’re running out of time, you’re getting too old.”

Farm references began to pepper our conversation, but my life was a swirl of playdates and client meetings.  I nodded in sympathy while dreaming up ways to distract him.

“How would you like to celebrate your 50th?” I asked, hoping his midlife crisis might be assuaged by a huge blowout.  Parties had always been my drug of choice.

“I want to raise a pig on my own organic farm, then invite all my friends over to eat it at a BBQ.”  Oh my.  I hadn’t counted on this.

Especially because I’m a city girl.  Prior to Atlanta, New York, Boston and London had been home.  I love cities.  In fact, whenever his ex disrupts our lives more than usual, he placates me with, “I owe you three weeks in Paris.”  After ten years together, he knows that the mere mention of an exotic urban adventure can derail me from thoughts of murder-for-hire.

One night, over key lime martinis, I confide Skip’s growing frustration to my girlfriends. “You on a farm?,” they sputter after the laughing dies down.  “You mean like “Green Acres”? Are you going to wear a feather boa like ZsaZsa Gabor?”

I’m torn.  When we wrote our wedding vows, we pledged to honor each other’s dreams.  But this?  I’ll spare you the details of arguments that begin and end with, “How the hell will we make a living growing vegetables?”  and get to the point:  we agreed to become part-time organic farmers.

One week after my husband received the promotion that would’ve enabled us finally to make deposits into our savings account, we chucked it all.  We moved to Austin, Texas, epicenter of the Whole Foods organic universe and home to my family.

Soon we found our halfway house, a place to rent while we tried farming.   Just ten minutes from downtown, the old yellow house was close enough to get freelance work, yet surrounded by acres of fields and trees.  That’s because it was nestled on the wrong side of the tracks — the prison, power plant, countless mobile homes and the former insane asylum would be our neighbors.  Even so, the soaring ceilings and wraparound porch won us over.  Besides, we were following in the fooststeps of the Bergstroms, the Swedish farmers who built the place when they immigrated to the rolling hills east of Austin in the 1860s.

After the Swedes sold out, the hippies moved in.  For the past 15 years, the house and the listing red barn behind it had been a commune.

“There’s no telling what you’ll find here,” the landlord said as she handed over the skeleton key.  Our kids set off exploring dusty stalls and dark closets.  They squirreled through the hole in the wall that led to the top floor of the barn.  “Mommy, look at this pirate treasure!” they shouted as they presented an ornate gold hookah found in the former hayloft.

In a matter of weeks, we went from feeding five mouths to 40.  Avery launched the animal fest when she became besotted with the scrawny cat mewling in the barn.  Visions of feline leukemia danced in my head as she kissed its carcass dotted in red sores.

“I’ve wanted my own cat forever,” she pleaded. “His name is Tommy and I promise I will love him forever.”  We caved.

It was hard to resist the urge to fill the barn.  We mailed-ordered away for 25 rare bred chicks, then while getting food for the brood at the feed store, my visiting teenage stepdaughter steered her father to the ducklings.

“Aren’t they cute?  They’re so soft.  Please, dad?”  Presto! Six ducks found a home.

Of course, now we needed a dog to guard the animals.  Enter Boone, a fluffy white puppy the pound assured us was a Great Pyrenees, a breed born to guard livestock.  (He  wasn’t and doesn’t but that’s another story.)

And then came Francis.

He began as the gag gift for Skip’s 50th surprise birthday party.   Because there was no dream farm or friends to invite to a BBQ, I figured I could at least get him a pig.

How hard could that be?

And, how does a city girl find a pig?  Online, of course.   All I knew was Skip wanted a tasty pig, not one of the bland, mass-produced kind.  I plugged “heritage pig” into Google and the odyssey began. Links led to calls to organizations like Texas Organic Farmers and Gardners Association, the Texas Pork Association, Slow Foods.  No one knew where to find one piglet. A hundred, no problem.  But, one?

I called feed stores and farmers.  “You want a feeder or a show pig?”  I had no idea.  The kind of condescension country folks reserve for city folks worsened with each call.

“You do know that pigs are not native to our state, doncha?” a farmer growled after I stumbled through my reasons for not wanting your everyday run-of-the-mill factory-farmed hog.

Time was running out when fate intervened.  The paper ran a full-page feature story on a heritage hog farmer less than an hour from us.  On the morning of Skip’s surprise party, I raced to fetch his gift: a half Hampshire, half Berskhire barrow.

Our piglet was not promising.  He was a squealing, terrified, 35-pound, 8-week old, boy piglet, all black except for the white band that encircled his body and front legs.  An enormous Oreo cookie.  Barely $45 had liberated him from his parents, who at 500 pounds each gave me a finer appreciation for the sausage I’ve slapped on my plate without a thought.

As I drove my prize to the party, an unfamiliar musky odor wafted forward from the back of my Subaru station wagon.  But that was all, not a grunt, not a whimper.  Mr. Pig lay his thick head between pink hooves looking scared and miserable.  I felt bad, but what can you do? He was merely a meal waiting to happen, the fulfillment of my husband’s midlife fantasy.

Skip was stunned and overjoyed with his present.  Amazed that I pulled it off, I put my attentions to the farm and controlling our puppy who wouldn’t stop jumping on the kids or me.  Each jump ended with a nip; every assault involved rips, scratches, and tears.

One morning, Boone’s razor sharp teeth rips a hole in my nightgown — my nipple pops out.  The kids think Mommy’s nipple is hysterically funny.  But after the fourth nipple level tear, I begin to wonder if we’re planning to eat the wrong animal.

Boone poops everywhere, digs up my garden, and destroys boots.  Our pig is so peaceful by comparison.  He relieves himself in one area, has no interest in tearing my clothes and quietly plays with his toy – a bowling ball – when he’s in the mood. He likes to have his back scratched but won’t beg for it.  None of this desperate need to be included or entertained.  It occurs to me that pigs are more dignified than dogs.  And better company.

As the days go by, I begin to feel  “hey, pig” is a bit impersonal.  I suggest “Sir Francis,” as in Sir Francis Bacon, to serve as a constant reminder of his fate.  It sticks.

We have our hands full getting the vegetable gardens started so we assign feeding the animals to the kids.  They take pride in scooping out the pellets and pouring them into round, metal feeders.

Soon we notice Sir Francis is leaving food in his bowl.  Is it because we switched to a cheaper feed?  Skip checks the chow.  It looks kind of gummy, which is odd because it’s stored in tightly sealed metal garbage cans.  But instead of firm brown pellets, it looks like old Grape Nuts cereal.  No wonder the pig’s not interested.  As I scoop through it, my stomach tightens.  One of our reference books said pigs can get a horrible disease from eating spoiled feed.

Avery is playing with the hose, spraying the ducks when Skip asks her if she knows how the feed got wet.

“I put water in the garbage can so Sir Francis will like his food more,” she reports, clearly pleased with her ingenuity.  After watching us add water to his food bowl to make the slop he adores, she figured she’d save a step.  There goes $60.

At five, Avery is quite confident about how the world works and gets upset when she’s corrected.  I take her aside and gently ask what would happen if we put milk in our box of Cherrios then put it on the shelf.   I don’t want to “dampen” her enthusiasm or embarrass her.  Besides, our midget workers have to stay motivated if we’re going to get anything out of them.

Time for me to get more involved with feeding. Francis begins to associate me with rotten fruit, tomatoes gone soft, wilted lettuce leaves and oozy brown items decaying at the bottom of the crisper drawer.   When I call him, his ears perk up.  But because pigs don’t see well, he squints and peers around trying to locate me like a librarian in the stacks.  When he finds me, he bounds over, ears flopping, grunting with pleasure.

There is something faintly prehistoric about him.  You feel the presence of warthogs, rhinos and elephants as he tramps through his wallow.

He snorts, presses his snout against the gate and wiggles his backside.  I pour scraps into his bowl, he dives in like Thanksgiving.  As he munches, the tight curl in his skinny tail unfurls, flaps around and rewinds.  He’s pleased.  After his snack, we play tug, I give him a massage, he nibbles my fingers.  He grunts, I grunt back.

As I hang fly strips over Francis’s bedding, Skip teases me, says he’s getting jealous.  Could I be falling in love with a pig?  Is that possible?

When we got him in June, he weighed as much as Ethan, our preschooler.  Just four months later, he weighs more than Skip.  We guessed it would take a year before he achieved BBQ weight, but at 210, he’s within range of the magic number: 235.  He’ll be ready by Halloween.  Oh my.

When I bring him dinner, I linger.  Maybe I should feed him a little less so he’ll have more time.  I begin to feel like I’m visiting a fat man on death row.

Francis rolls onto his side, trying to rub out something unseen from his left ear. His little brown eyes appear sorrowful.  Is he bored?  His days are spent laying around watching the chickens scratch and the ducks complain, but he is alone. I wish he had a companion, another pig to understand each grunt and add a few of their own.  When I share my concern with another pig owner, she suggests a playdate.  But Francis no longer fits in my Subaru or Skip’s Volvo.  Perhaps it’s time for a pick-up truck?

I’m mulling this over at the feed store when a white-haired man in jeans and plaid shirt with snaps sparks a conversation.

“What’s the feed for?,” he asks eyeing my crisp white summer dress, strappy heels and pearl earrings.  I’ve barely said pig, when he launches into his wild boar stories.

“Growing up my family would shoot a wild one every year.  Had to, to get by. We’d all help prepare it. Eyeballs were the best part, taste just like candy. And someone was always cutting up a tongue sandwich as we worked,” he continued on, oblivious to my nausea.  “My parents went for the blood, drank 8 ounces each, swore by it.  I never liked it myself, too sweet for me.”

I forced a smile and tried not to gag as he reminisced.  There was no stopping him.

“You know the secret to good sausage?  I tell ‘ya.  You gotta use hog, venison and brisket.  Lots of garlic.”

As he went on, I was thrown back to Avery’s question at the kitchen table.   “Are you going to put a knife in him and cut him up?” she had gasped through her tears.

“No, sweetheart, when he gets big enough, we’ll take him to a place where they put him to sleep forever, then they’ll, um…”  I was at a loss for words.  I have no idea how he’d be done away with – injection, electrical shock, drowning?  Who knows how a pig becomes bacon.

I try to solve the mystery at a farmer’s conference.  I’m steered to a hog farmer, who says he’s in that line of work because, “You can use everythin’ but the squeal.”

“How do you kill a pig?  I ask him.

“Harvest, you mean harvest,” he says, peering down at me like an overall-clad Goliath.  He was all Texan rancher from the dirty boots up to the straw hat perched on his large square head, a distance that seemed to span more than 10 feet.

“First, the pig comes down with lead-poisoning.  Course, a Mexican may want to pay you for the honors, that way you’ll get $1 a pound on the hoof.  I get $4 a pound after it’s packaged and all.”

He lost me at lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning?  How does a pig get lead poisoning – eating old paint?  Then it came to me.  Oh.  Like right-between-the-eyes, that kind of lead poisoning.

Here was this enormous tree of a man, the kind that drove a pick up truck that required a running leap to reach the first step.  Someone I would never know in my former life.  Yet, in an instant we were bonding over our pigs.

“I bet you named your pig, didn’t you?” he said with a wink.

I nodded, a little embarrassed.  I wasn’t about to confess how quickly I’d gone from calling him Sir Francis to Francis to Frannie.

“Noone told me I’d fall in love with him.”

“Noone ever does, but that’s the truth.  We all do.”

He laughed as he told me how his animals – hogs and Longhorns mostly – cost more than he was bringing in. “I’m upside down like a big dog,” he grinned, maneuvering the chaw to the other cheek.

Upside down is what we’ll be if we keep Francis.  A 500-pound pet, who thanks to a bit of surgery prior to purchase, can’t reproduce and earn his keep on the farm.

Should we get a freezer?  Make Francis our Christmas presents? Even if we do “harvest” him, how will we get him to the processor?   In a Volvo?  Oh my.