Urban Ag in the Lone Star State.
In this place ruled by ranchers, food trucks and cowboy boots, I found slow food, rich mineralized urban soil, and a love of and respect for the land and all it provides. I found these things at Metier Cook’s Supply, at Lenoir Restaurant, at the SFC Farmers Market, and most notably, at Boggy Creek Farm.
This house, the homestead at Boggy Creek, was built in 1841 and is the first home built in Austin that is still standing. The land, one city block equal to 5 acres, was the spinach capital of Texas back in the 30’s, and has been farmed for the past 21 years by Carol Ann Sayle and Larry Butler.
Since 2000, when I met farmers Mike Kandefer and Tony Norris, I have been drawn to Urban Oaks Organic Farm and have felt very much a part of the fabric that keeps the farm going. Here, in urban Austin, is another year-round gem of a farm. How do they remain sustainable? Farmer Carol Ann, once a painter by trade, painted me a clear picture and inspired me with her knowledge, dedication, wisdom, integrity and heart.
As I’ve been preparing my own garden this spring, I have been questioning: Should I till? Should I weed? Is compost enough? What amendments does my soil require? Carol Ann was practical and wise, opting against deep tilling in favor or “tickle tilling” just the top layer. Her soil, recently tested and compared to other local farms, came out on top having the best microbial activity. And after 21 years of paying for organic certification, she decertified. “Customers simply don’t care.” she said. “They know me, and knowing your farmer is more important than a piece of paper.” Their compost is rich and smoking. Their cover crop comes from edibles like purslane and arugula. And their produce is abundant, grown in harmony with the environment and beautiful.
I could have stayed all afternoon talking with Carol Ann and touring Boggy Creek, but I had to let her go inside and prepare the end-of-the-day meal for the farm workers that she prepares every day. Next time I’ll make sure that my schedule allows me to help prepare and share that meal with Carol Ann and the Boggy Creek Farm family.
Until that next visit, eat clean live well Austin!