Grow Up!: 5 Local Farms Feeding Austin
Featuring five local farms rooted in feeding the community.
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Green Gate Farms
To say that Green Gate Farms is historic would be an understatement. The barn was built in 1902 by the Bergstrom family, the same Swedish immigrants of the eponymous airport. It would serve as a place of refuge for immigrants for years to come, until it evolved into a commune for artists and hippies. Rumor has it that the founders of Whole Foods Market would party in the hayloft. If these walls could talk, they’d have endless stories about the people who shaped Austin into the creative haven it’s reputed to be.
Eleven years ago, Erin Flynn and her husband Skip Connett moved onto the property to grow this organic community farm. The intention behind Green Gate Farms is not to source to high-end restaurants. Rather, Flynn and Connett wanted to contribute to the mission of public health by ensuring that everyone has access to healthy food—regardless of their economic status or location.
Green Gate Farms receives about 800 requests to volunteer and hosts more than 1,000 students every year, and when people come to the farm, Flynn goes above and beyond to educate visitors. They regularly run farm camps, where kids can get outside and take a different approach to applying math skills, learning literature and history, and gaining an interest in sustainable practices.
It’s located in Austin’s extraterritorial jurisdiction—barely outside city limits, in a ‘gray’ area for legal policies. Unfortunately, a developer from Arizona has purchased the land Green Gate Farms sits on (as well as the vast acreage around it) and it’s threatening the business. His plan is to fill the vast acreage with hundreds of manufactured homes. Flynn is directing her efforts toward saving Green Gate Farms by rallying everyone who shares her passion for Austin’s history, feeding the masses, and the way we raise the next generation. If that’s not convincing enough, think of it this way: more homes mean more people crowding the city.
Affiliated Cause: New Farm Institute
New Farm Institute’s mission is to educate, assist and inspire a new generation of sustainable farmers in Central Texas. This nonprofit provides farm-based education including: camps, workshops, and an Incubator Farm. Comprised of farmers, citizens and community activists, NFI is dedicated to engaging people of all ages and abilities in healthy foods and sustainable farming.
Tuesday 3—6 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.—2 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.—2 p.m.
If you're interested in saving the farm, donate to the fundraising campaign that supports restoring the buildings and improving infrastructure. Opportunities to join a committee focused on farm-based education and contribute to the historic preservation of the property are also available.