Down on the Farm

The boys and I took a trip to Green Gate Farm yesterday, one of the few remaining working historic farms in Austin and Travis county. Farms dominated the landscape in the last half of the 19th century in Austin, but by the 1930s, most farmers had moved or had changed occupations. Given the rate of growth and development in Austin over the past 20 years, it’s amazing that we actually have several historic farms still in operation. I’d been to Boggy Creek Farm before, and it’s no doubt a special place. I was delighted to learn about Green Gate recently from a friend who works at the Sustainable Food Center. They are a shining example of a historic farm in a sea of mobile home parks in east Austin.

The place was deserted when we arrived yesterday. On a gorgeous 78 degree not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day, it was pretty amazing to find ourselves in the middle of a time capsule. We saw the resident horse and flock of chickens as we made our way to the quaint yellow Queen Anne vernacular farmhouse. Knocking on the screen door, we were quickly greeted by Erin, her daughter Avery and their dog who looked more like a bear than a canine. Erin and her husband Skip are deeply committed to preserving this important place and running a community-based hub for urban organic farming.

Skip and Erin, proprieters. Picture courtesy of http://www.greengatefarm.net

Our tour guide, Avery. Picture courtesy of http://www.greengatefarm.net

I didn’t want to take any more time away from the spring cleaning she was in the midst of, so it was Avery who took the boys and I on a tour of the farm. Our first and last stop was the goat pen. Abby, their mama goat, had given birth to triplets 2 weeks ago. The boys could have played with those babies all day. I’ve never seen baby goats get so many hugs, kisses and pets! We left after a half and hour, but I know we will return frequently and not just for the eggs and produce they sell at their farmstand. They also host a Farm Camp every summer for the kiddos, as well as a “Farmer for a Day” program for the grownies. I can not WAIT to do this! Erin and I will also talk in the spring about effective ways to preserve the structures and land of Green Gate. As a professional historic preservationist, there is nothing that gives me more joy than working with stewards of the places that hold our vanishing heritage. As a mom, there is nothing that gives me more joy than seeing my boys experience the vital connection we have with the land and the role they can play in sustaining it.

Farmstand. Picture courtesy of http://www.greengatefarm.net

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