Community Outreach

Cultivating Organic Food, Communities, and Farmers

Community Outreach, The First Five Years


Long before we started a nonprofit — New Farm Institute — to advance farm-based education initiatives, our farm has been seeking to provide what our neighbors need.

Green Gate Farms, a certified organic farm, was established by Skip Connett and Erin Flynn in an underserved neighborhood in east Austin in 2006. Working off-farm jobs to fund our efforts, we restored a historic farm site to create a community resource for neighbors of all incomes. Our vision is to cultivate a healthy farm that feeds mind, body, and soul. Below is a partial listing of how our farm serves its community through events, partnerships and little (or no) outside funding:

  • Run a 125-member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Host events that generate income for organizations engaged in meaningful work
  • Sell produce to individuals of all incomes, restaurants, CSAs, and grocery stores
  • Operate weekly farm stand that accepts WIC/SNAP vouchers
  • Train and manage full-time staff, interns, work shares, and weekly volunteers
Volunteers and Work Shares
  • Our open-door policy has allowed citizens of all ages and abilities to work on the farm; 700+ people have volunteered here since 2006.
  • Each year, about 20 workshares members learn farming in exchange for discounted produce by working weekly throughout the season.
  • Prospective Peace Corps volunteers prepare for their assignments here.
Tours and Interactive Field Trips

Every Saturday at noon, a farmer takes guests on a hands-on, tasting tour of our fields, barn, farm stand, children’s garden, CSA and livestock area. “Fridays at the Farm” was developed for families with small children to enjoy the farm at no cost, picnic in Children’s Garden, play in Magic Treehouse and relax.

In addition, we’ve created tours to meet the needs of groups that include:

  • Austin City Council and Austin Water Utility staff
  • Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity at Dell Children’s Medical Center, “Healthy Living, Happy Living”
  • UT Charter Elementary School
  • Austin School for the Blind and Deaf
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Austin Discovery School (200 elementary school students)
  • Kipp School
  • Girl Scouts
  • Texas Culinary Academy
  • Southwestern University
  • Natural Epicurean Cooking School
  • AOMA
  • Urban Roots
  • Rude Mechanicals Oyster Club
  • Homeschooled children with Permaculture instructor Dick Pierce
  • Little Helping Hands, volunteer program for kids ages 4-8
  • Central Austin Food Bank, Vista volunteers
  • Large groups of students from underserved schools/recreation centers. Tours sponsored by Sustainable Food Center, (500 students)
  • Restaurant chefs — from Four Seasons Hotel to St. Edward’s University

Farm Outreach: Bringing the Farm to Others

We are organic farmers and agricultural activists. Through our writing, speeches and presentations at local, regional and national conferences, we simplify complex issues and foster communication between farmers, policy makers, citizens, government officials, and the media.

Community Education

Cultivating Food
  • Partner with Natural Epicurean chefs to create “Second Helpings,” product line using gleaned vegetables; sales to benefit New Farm Institute
  • Whole Foods employees, Regional Nutritionists Farm Tour
  • Herb Class for Kids with Herbalist Nicole Telkes
  • Sun Cooking and Simple Living Permaculture Workshops with Jenny Nazak
  • “Making Gumbo” Cooking Class with Chef Elizabeth Winslow
  • Cooking Class in Farmhouse Kitchen with Greenling Delivery Service
  • Texas Department of Human Services, local food training video
  • U-pick opportunities for vegetables and flowers
  • Pickling Class, CSA member grew cucumbers and taught pickling workshop for 35 participants
  • Sunset Harvest Cooking Class, Chef Kert Peterson
Cultivating Community
  • Farm Camp for Kids, weeklong camps for ages 6-12
  • Architecture for Humanity, Earthbag building workshop
  • Sponsored Share program, our farm program to feed underserved
  • Youth Empowered Art (YEA) classes for underserved and other kids
  • Little Helping Hands, host volunteer activities for young children
  • “Lasagna” Gardening Class with Farmer Erin, October 2008
  • Jenny Chen dog training
  • Girl Scout projects
  • Urban Bike Tour
  • Funky Chicken Coop Tours
  • Seasonal Plant Sales, Fall/Spring transplants
  • Yoga in the Hayloft with several instructors
  • Mothers of Multiples Meet-up
  • Students from area colleges, assist with research
Cultivating Farmers
  • 5-H, month-long children’s program, pairing city kids with piglets
  • Farmer for a Day, Saturday morning camp for kids
  • Adult Camp, second Sundays, monthly
  • Composting workshop with Break It Down, new composting business
  • Beekeeping Workshop with the farm’s beekeeper, MARS Honey
  • Seed Saving workshops
  • Richardson Farm pork sold at farm stand, helping launch their business
  • Plant identification classes for kids/adults with Herbalist Ginger Webb
  • Little Green Witches, host environmental classes for girls
  • Gardening Teacher trainings for school teachers, camp counselors and individuals
  • Processing classes: Chicken, Goat, Sheep
  • Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Farm Tours
  • University of Texas environmental sciences, geology students, and Slow Food chapter volunteer on farm
  • UT Student Garden, consulted with founder
  • Incubator Farm program

Special Events

Community Building
  • Heifer International Hoedown, Austin’s inaugural fundraiser, November 2010
  • Austin Discovery School, Slow Food Feast elementary school fundraisers: 2007-11
  • Beer and Ice Cream Social (fundraiser to cover $5,000 vet bill for a friend’s dog)
  •  “Farm Day of Fun,” June 2009 (free admission for: gardening/livestock info, slip and slide, food tastings with Dishalicious, Ryan McKerely pottery demonstrations,…)
Art, Music, and Fun
  • Texas Observer photographs pig for magazine cover
  • Better Homes & Gardens photo shoot (employed 4 local food artisans)
  • Mad Hatter Tea Party, Wanderlust Ice Cream
  • Come Drum for Fun, teach drumming at farm stand
  • Rivers Beginners Nature Photography Class, two-week series
  • Pleine Air painters, fine artists gather to paint farm scenes
  • Lisa Woods Photography, wedding photographer uses farm for client portraits
  • Independent filmmaker creates “Angry Birds” spoof starring our rare breed hogs
  • Photographers, models use farm for photo shoots
Food Artisans
  • Kate Payne’s pickling classes
  • Dai Due Supper Clubs
  • Slow Food Austin (SFA) member Potluck, SFA Happy Hours
  • Movie night, Dai Due Supper Club: “Garlic is as Good as 10 Mothers”
  • CSA member potlucks

Creating and Stregthening Local Food Organizations

Whenever possible we work through existing organizations to improve working conditions for farmers and to increase access to local food. We have also created new groups as necessary:

  • New Farm Institute, creators, 2011
  • GroACT (Growers Alliance of Central Texas), cofounders, 2010
  • Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, members, speakers, marchers
  • Helped convene meeting of water stakeholders at Jim Hightower’s office (e.g., policymakers, developers, farmers) with Edible Austin, wrote article, June 2008
  • Texas Organic Agriculture Industry Advisory Board (TOFGA), board member
  • TOFGA, board member
  • TOFGA’s 2008 annual conference, co-lead, Killeen, TX
  • TOFGA Today, managed and wrote for quarterly newsletter
  • Edible Austin, frequent contributor to quarterly magazine
  • Georgia Organics, member, conference presenter and marketing consultant
  • Atlanta Local Food Initiative, founding member


  • Terra Madre, 2010 Turin, Italy, selected for international Slow Food conference, helped teach workshop, Mentoring Young Farmers
  • Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, 2011, Chattanooga, TN
  • Attracting Customers to Your Farm – Connecting with the Community
  • Advanced CSAs: What Works and What Doesn’t
  • NACE National Conference, featured speakers at luncheon, July 2010
  • New York University’s Critical Topics in Food Series, June 2010
  • Georgia Organics Conference, Farm to School, 2007
  • Bioneers Conference, Southeast, Farm to School, 2005
  • Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) Leadership Conference 2011, Food Safety
  • HMI Women in Agriculture Seminar 2011, Women Beginning in Agriculture
  • Texas Organic Farmers’ Gardeners Association (TOFGA), Conference on Organic Production Systems 2011, Farm Value-Added Activities; TOFGA, 2013: Beginning Farmers Workshop
  • Slow Food USA, Attend San Francisco conference, 2008, interviewed by Austin media
  • Austin’s Sustainable Food Policy Board: presentation on creating a Local Food Policy Council in Atlanta
  • Sustainable Food Center, “Meet a Farmer program”: Visit underserved middle  schools, explain benefits of healthy food choices, 2008-11.
  • Edible Austin/Michael Pollan event, farmer showcase at UT
  • Monkeywrench Books, SFC: Food Justice Speakers Series, Building Local Food Systems panel
  • Texas State University: Food and Sustainability panel
  • Southwestern University, speaker at Religion and Food class
  • TOFGA New Farmer Workshop, panel discussion, June 2011 Food Policy Councils, 2009
  • Sustainable Food Center event, Food Inc., film panel discussion,
  • Citizen Gardener class, speaker
  • AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine: Student Association, A Celebration of Local Food Economy panel
  • St. Edward’s University: Faith Communities and Local Food, speaker
  • University of Texas Law School Clinic: Water Issues Facing Farmers, presenter
  • Austin Discovery School, Farmer Skip brings newborn goats to classroom
  • First English Lutheran Church: Local Food and the Environment, speaker
  • Slow Food Austin, panels: Sourcing Sustainably; What is CSA; Terra Madre
  • Peak Oil meeting: What is Community Supported Agriculture? speaker
Relevant Articles We've Written
  • Rodale Institute’s New Farm Magazine, sustainable farming articles
  • Edible Austin magazine
  • Water in Texas: The Crisis Underground
  • From Gate to Plate: Making Meat in Central Texas
  • When You Wish Upon a Farm, profile about our farm
  • Vanishing Act, source for article on heritage breed livestock
  • Green Gate Farms Newsletter, weekly essays

Food Justice, Access, and Security

Farm Stand

Our on-farm farm stand was cobbled together out of found materials to create a store providing the highest quality food possible to people of all incomes. Our neighborhood is a food desert with no healthy food available in walking distance; only gas stations and liquor stores are nearby.

Open three days a week, we serve as a distribution point for area farmers and artisanal food businesses seeking to build a following. For instance, we helped Richardson Farms establish its pork business. Our goal is to be a one-stop-shop for vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy, baked goods, plants and educational information.

At the farm, children are engaged through activities like potato pulling, tomato harvesting and tasting. Exercise is promoted through events like Yoga in the Hayloft. And we encourage area groups like Central Health to gather healthcare information from residents to change and improve access and quality.

Donations: Food/Flower/Plant/Seeds
  • Area churches, Artists, Individuals in need
  • Texas River School
  • Heifer International
  • Trinity Child Development Center
  • Slow Food Austin
  • Primavera School
  • Zilker Elementary School
  • Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
  • Capital Area Food Bank
  • Austin Discovery School
  • Grocial, community grocery store in development
  • Anna Lappe, “Grub” book signing
  • Blind Café, roving supper club hosted by people who are blind

Research and Innovation

USDA Value Added Grant to study feasibility of soldier flies, Bokashi bran and chicken litter for Austin Zero Waste Initiative.

Incubator Farm: First farm in Austin to set aside land, equipment, infrastructure to launch beginning farmers.  Featured on Whole Foods “Farm Fresh” online video series.

Public Health Intervention, “Sponsored Shares”: Donor funding enabled farm to distribute CSA shares to low-income families and at-risk kids throughTexas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity at Dell Children’s Medical Center, “Healthy Living, Happy Living” and UT Charter Elementary School.

Serving Countywide Organic Food Desert: First certified organic vegetable and flower farm in Bastrop county, and first to provide a certified organic vegetable and flower CSA.

 Farm Camp for Adults and Children: First Austin farm to provide ongoing weeklong camps for children and monthly classes for adults with hands-on participation in all aspects of diversified farming operation.

Composting: Helped graduate student launch Break it Down, non-profit business utilizing restaurant food waste, volunteers and community gardens to develop on-farm composting systems.

Utilizing Food Waste: Enhanced and promoted Whole Foods “green mission” through weekly pick ups of food waste at its warehouse to divert to our composting and livestock operations. Promoted in Whole Foods Team Leadership Training.

Restaurant Partnership: Cross promotion with Somnio’s Café, a local food restaurant. As it became a vegetable and flower CSA member, wholesale buyer and in-town location for farm members to pick up shares, we promoted the restaurant using all our marketing channels.

Preventive Health for Teachers: Principal of charter school paid for teachers to receive our CSA shares when unable to afford standard health coverage.

 Farm Camp for Adults and Children: First Austin farm to provide ongoing weeklong camps for children and monthly classes for adults introducing diversified farming operation.

Contact Us

Green Gate Farms
8310 Canoga Ave
Austin, TX 78724

Phone: 512-484-2746