by Laura Dooley [Email address: lkdooley #AT# gmail.com - replace #AT# with @ ]
It’s hard to ignore the Call of the Vegetable. Whether it’s because of a craving or a guilty feeling for not eating enough vegetables, they call us from the produce section at our favorite grocery stores. Those turnips, that kale, that… something that looks yummy and fresh but that I don’t know the name of…
Ever hear yourself say, “That looks so good but I have no idea what to do with it”? Or, taking it a step further, actually buying said vegetable and then watching it turn into a science project on your countertop? Yeah, me too.
Randy Jewart of 5 Mile Farms and Resolution Gardens can help.
5 Mile Farms is an urban farm right in our part of town – it’s over on Jim Hogg Avenue, just east of Burnet off North Loop. Jewart lives and works on the property and invited me out for a visit.
Honestly, I was surprised to see an urban farm tucked away right behind our busy Burnet Road. As I talked with Jewart, his passion for healthy food, education, and community was readily apparent. As we walked around the farm, stocked full of winter vegetables, he explained how it works.
The 5 Mile Farms concept starts with that of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which allows folks to buy memberships that entitle them to a certain amount of fresh produce each week. Subscriptions cost $20 a week for a 13-week time period. Members come to the main farm on Jim Hogg and select from the bounty of nine local yards. This is an integral part of how 5 Mile Farms works: folks from different parts of the city are contributing parts of their yards toward the tending and nurturing of fresh produce, adding to the sense of community.
He describes this concept of farming as “hyper-local,” meaning that food is grown within a small radius in town. It’s also hyper-fresh; on pickup days (see below for details) the veggies are usually picked between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning.
Veggies are priced by type, and members can choose up to their $20 weekly allotment. Have a need for some extra broccoli? No problem. Members can purchase extra.
To summarize his goals with the farm, Jewart said, “People learn together, eat together, and spread the good word.”
That’s why Jewart adds layers to the membership that aren’t common in other CSAs: he also offers educational opportunities, such as classes on composting, building herb gardens, and pickling vegetables.
In an effort to build a strong community around food, he also opens up his home each month for a meal featuring the locally grown produce from the gardens in his care. And, every Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00 is Volunteer Day, where members and non-members alike can come get their hands dirty, take part in growing organic produce, and show their kids (and themselves!) where food comes from (the answer is farms, not H-E-B).
“There are great things happening in the local food movement in Austin, but there’s still so much more to do,” said Jewart.
To that end, you might be asking how you can have a garden in your own backyard. Resolution Gardens, a company also run by Jewart and his team, can help. “We can come in and help people over the hump of ‘I can’t do this’,” said Jewart.
They’ll come to your home armed with the tools, soil, and plants necessary to install a four by eight-foot garden bed. Then you can enjoy your very own seasonal harvests. Another option would be to become one of the home farms that supplies vegetables for the 5 Mile Farms CSA.
If you’re ready to get your healthy on – or your hands dirty – call Randy at 5 Mile Farms and Resolution Gardens.
Produce pickup days and times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 until noon and 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 5 Mile Farms; Sunday mornings at the Hope Farmers Market, at 414 Waller Street.