Sol Food Mobile Farm: Texas

| December 18, 2012
Sol Food Mobile Farm may be back in NC, but here is one of the last remaining three articles from their nationwide tour!
Howdy from Austin, TX! After a wonderful month on the West Coast, the Sol Food bus booked it across the southwest into Austin, TX. We spent ten wonderful days in Austin that were packed with expos and visits all over the city. We met some amazing people in Austin and were greeted with some of the great southern hospitality!
Our first farm visit in Austin was to Green Gate Farm. This sustainable, organic farm was founded by Skip Connett and Erin Flynn. We had the privilege of meeting Erin and getting a tour from her. Green Gate was our first encounter with pigs on this trip! Erin raises a rare-breed of pigs called Guinea Hogs. Along with their pigs, Green Gate has chickens, goats, and lots of beautiful produce. Erin was an extremely knowledgeable farmer and she taught us a lot about the history of Austin’s farm land.
The next day, we visited Overton Elementary School. We worked with their Boys & Girls club after school program. Overton Elementary has a beautiful, small vegetable garden that the students work in regularly. Ms. St. Lucie, the teacher whose class we worked with, thought it would a great idea to add a vermicomposting bin to the garden. A lot of the students were very eager to be a part of the worm bin construction. It was very sweet to see them show off their handiwork to their parents at the end of the day. We were excited to introduce the kids to worm composting and can’t wait to hear about their experiences with the worms in the future!
Our next school stop in Austin was at Trinity Episcopal School. We spent half the day giving tours to a science  class of eighth graders and all the fourth graders. The Eighth grade science class was focusing on creating a green business and what steps go into creating a project like ours. We were able to talk to these students about the planning stages of our non-profit  and how to stay organized. The entire Sol Food crew was blown away by the insightful questions all of the students asked and their intense attention to detail.
On Tuesday, we visited Widen Elementary School. They have a very small garden that needed some tender loving care. Along with a group of excited second graders, we amended the soil with organic compost and planted seedlings from our greenhouse. It is always inspiring to watch a child plant a seedling for the first time. They always radiate with a strong sense of accomplishment. It is these reactions that make our work greatly fulfilling. Later in the day we had the privilege of parking outside of Whole Foods and giving tours to employees and curious customers. It was very generous of them to invite us to their store and give an expo about our mission.
On Wednesday, we held an expo at the Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market at the Triangle. The market had great atmosphere with live music, happy families, and amazing local produce. We were lucky enough to meet the owner of Johnson’s Backyard Garden and hear about his amazing farm success story. In a matter of 4 years, Brenton Johnson was able to expand from selling produce from his backyard garden to having a flourishing 200 acre farm. It was truly a privilege to meet a humble farmer who was just as excited about growing organic produce as we are!

 The following day we drove out to Urban Roots Farm, to participate in their volunteer day. Urban Roots is based around a youth development program that teaches essential life skills through sustainable agriculture. A majority of the produce is donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries. Their 3.5 acre farm tucked in the woods of East Austin cranks out around 30,000 pounds of produce a year! On this particular day at the farm there were over 20 volunteers. With so many pairs of hands, we were able to make quick work of all the harvesting. The Sol Food crew had a wonderful time meeting and working with new people while pulling veggies from the earth.
On our final day in Austin, we had the privilege of being a part of a major campus transformation at Cedars International Academy. The Humana Foundation had given a grant to the school that allowed them to bring KaBOOM! to build a brand new playground, vegetable garden, and a butterfly garden. KaBOOM! is an organization that travels around the country building playgrounds for communities, all in one day. On Saturday, over 200 volunteers worked together to build picnic tables, a huge playground, 8 raised garden beds, plant an entire butterfly garden and add artwork all over campus. We were shocked at how much was accomplished in only 8 hours!! There was so much enthusiasm all day, that it didn’t even feel like work. It was wonderful to be part of a project that  will continue to be a huge gift to students for years to come. We left the workday exhausted, covered in dirt and paint, but with huge smiles on our faces.
It is safe to say that everyone in the Sol Food crew had a wonderful time in Austin. We all fell in love with the city (and secretly want to move there). The ten days that we spent in Austin flew by and brought us one city closer to being home. Our final stop on the trip will be in Louisiana, where we will visit Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans!

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Category: Featured, For Kids, Sol Food Mobile Farm

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  1. Juliana says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all the pictures…I love seeing it and it is so uplifting. People working together and seeing those veggies growing.
    Great job!

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