Tecolote Farm joins forces with local farms and food businesses to host a meet and greet with Travis County Judge potential Andy Brown this Saturday, February 22, from 11:30 am -1 pm at Barr Mansion. Green Gate Farm, Edible Austin, Springdale Farm, Hausbar Farm, Barr Mansion, and so many other local sustainable and organic food businesses are supporting Andy Brown. Local, organic small plates will be served, and all are welcome. Please rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the Facebook event page: Let’s Talk Food with Andy Brown! We as farmers prefer to stay out of the political limelight, but sometimes it’s important to share what you know. In case you don’t remember Tecolote Farm’s battle over our groundwater loss from 2008-2010 with Travis County, read here. The Travis County Commissioners Court was generally friendly and open to finding a solution at the time, save for one Commissioner: Sarah Eckhardt. She is running for Travis County Judge now, and our experience with her character is such that we are strongly endorsing Andy Brown. In addition to the vindictive tone and lack of support or openness she demonstrated, there were issues with her policy, especially considering that she was viewed as THE sustainable/green commissioner. Read on to see what water lawyer Drew Miller, who represented us pro bono in the battle, summarizes about her unfriendly positions toward this local, organic, sustainable farm: “Sarah Eckhardt was steadfast and uncompromising in seeing to it the County was able to, with impunity, pump a neighboring organic farm’s long-producing well dry by locating the County’s new wells nearby and pumping the heck out of those wells – including by wasting that groundwater. She was steadfast and uncompromising in making sure that the County would hide behind the antiquated rule of capture, while hypocritically assailing that legal […]
Read Addie Broyles’ Food section cover story from April 11, 2012: After long battle over water, Tecolote Farm finally moving on! It has been a long four years since our wells dried up here at the original farm. Statesman writer Addie Broyles tells the tale of how we keep on keepin’ on.
Now taking 2012 CSA sign-ups! 2012 CSA Subscription Agreements coming soon (within the next two days)- email me at email@example.com beforehand to reserve your spot for our award-winning, long-standing vegetable delivery service! Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson at the Paramount Stateside Theater last night was a lovely way to end a weekend full of a slow, soaking, stuck-in-the-mud kinda rain. I’d like to pay tribute to both of them and the poem which Edible Austin’s Marla Camp asked Wendell to read last night: Water from Farming: A Handbook by Wendell Berry I was born in a drouth year. That summer my mother waited in the house, enclosed in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind, for the men to come back in the evenings, bringing water from a distant spring. veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank. And all my life I have dreaded the return of that year, sure that it still is somewhere, like a dead enemy’s soul. Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me, and I am the faithful husband of the rain, I love the water of wells and springs and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns. I am a dry man whose thirst is praise of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup. My sweetness is to wake in the night after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.
After some weary years of wrestling with water lines and digging trenches for buried pipe and electric cable to a new small production well at our original Webberville farm, we are going to Hawaii going to do it again! At the new River Farm in Utley, Bastrop County, down on the Colorado River, about 12 miles east of our current farm. The well-diggers were there all day yesterday, and are at it again today, trying to find a good, dependable source of well water for us for many more decades of organic vegetable production. Fingers crossed, hopes high, looking for water when it’s oh-so-dry. We welcome all well-wishers (haha), prayers, hopeful thoughts, thunderstorms, etc.
We hope you have all survived the hottest, driest central Texas summer in recorded history! While our plans to take the kids on a road trip to the mountain ranges of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana preceded knowledge of the horrendous summer that lay ahead, in retrospect we feel very fortunate that we weren’t picking okra in 107° all July!! I know many of you missed the okra, melons, tomatoes, sweet peppers and cucumber-melons that late summer baskets bring, but have no fear: we’ll be doing summer season as usual starting again in 2012. The real question on everyone’s mind, though, is: “Will there even be a fall season in this dratted weather, and, if so, when will it start?” We planned and were excited about a fall CSA (our first ever), so we plunged right in- despite the daunting late August/early September weather- and got seeds started in plug trays (in the cooler!) and transplants in the hot ground. We wanted to start the first week of October, or last week of September. It has been an act of hope planting into hard, dry ground full of clods, and keeping the soil moist enough to entice germination and continued life. We sent Zachary, our eldest, up to Jarrell one day with the truck and trailer to purchase 3 round bales of corn stalks for use as mulch. The newly-transplanted peppers and eggplants wouldn’t have survived without protection, and there was not a stalk of untreated hay or straw to be had within all surrounding counties. Corn farmers who lost their crop still baled the stalks to sell for feed to hay-starved livestock, beneficial at least for caloric value. So, the short answer is: “Yes, we still plan to do a Fall CSA, and hope to start in mid October.” The […]
We had big hopes for this fall: our first ever Fall CSA season and the development of our new raw land down on the river into farmland. Our water woes will be greatly diminished when we can farm on land with a better water source. Oh how we miss the days of our hand-dug well chugging through drought years without missing a beat! For now, though, there is but one hope: the return of RAIN to our soil. Without rain, fall crops will wither in the endless heat and hot ground. Without rain, mesquite abatement and deer fence construction on the new land will be nearly impossible. We’ll keep going, as other area farmers have done all summer, because Texas farmers are tough, and fairly hardened to the cruel weather. But I don’t know if we’ve ever wished for the end of August to signal the end of summer so badly. The shade cloth-covered greenhouse is full of baby vegetables wanting to make their way in the world. September can go either way, but I’m all for making it as different from August as it ever gets. Get out your dancin’ shoes- there’s a 20% chance of rain Friday-Sunday -and let’s all bring that rain to Texas!
For three years, we battled the County to find a solution to the loss of our groundwater caused by their pumping massive amounts of water up to East Metro Park’s playing fields and catch-and-release fishing ponds. They didn’t come through, thanks in large part to the obstructive response of Commissioner Eckhardt. So we went back to doing what farmers do best: figured it out ourselves. Solution #1 The new well (which we located via the research done by UT Professor Jack Sharp’s Hydrogeology class) is installed and operating. While producing half the volume of our previous well, and thus not enough pressure to directly supply our drip irrigation system, it is possible to irrigate with this groundwater through a storage tank and sand filter set-up. Farmers have always been known for innovation. Even though our groundwater was sucked out from under us by over-development in our area by subdivisions and County parks, we have survived! Solution #2 Looking ahead, we realize that our proximity to Austin (14 miles from the capitol building) and the fact that we live in a county where the then current Director of Natural Resources (Joe Gieselman) said, “The best and highest use of their land (Tecolote Farm) is no longer agricultural” makes our future not so certain. Farming is so important, and a county which goes on the record to discourage farmers from nurturing fertile soil to feed the local community is essentially pushing them out. As a matter of survival, we purchased a parcel of land another 14 miles the other way (east) in Bastrop County. We continue to farm Tecolote Farm proper, but our first crops went in the ground at the new land in Fall 2011. We lovingly call the new place the River Farm, as it was first coined by the […]
We are eternally grateful for the outpouring of community support given to Tecolote Farm during our three year water trial. While Travis County chose to hide behind the Rule of Capture and not do anything to help alleviate the damage caused to our groundwater supply and our financial well-being, we learned so much about how much Austin community members value their local farmers. From your letters, emails, and phone calls to showing up at County court hearings and helping build our networking base, we felt held in the heart of all that is good about Austin. We believe our efforts would never have made it as far as they did without the incredible support our CSA customers, farmers market shoppers, neighbors, and community liaisons made on the behalf of this local, organic farm. One County Commissioner member estimated the County received over 15,000 pleas via email and telephone to “help the farm”. If that wasn’t a mandate on publicly elected officials, what is? Good News is: We did drill a well at one of the sites suggested by the UT study, and now have a low production well on our property again. We are very grateful to the Hydrology students led by Jack Sharp for the preliminary work they did, which facilitated finding the well site. Because the water production from this well isn’t sufficient to run the farm, we have also purchased additional property in agriculture-friendly Bastrop County next to another organic farm. There we will raise more beautiful organic produce, with a more reliable water source to keep our future steady! Hallelujah for the USDA’s Farm Security Administration’s low interest loans. Following are some notes from when we first tried to get the website up and running in 2009. Funny how what the County said they would do […]