Please check out the new website!

In case you’ve gotten to our original WordPress website (this one) through some strange labyrinthine online journey, please let me re-direct you to the new and improved one:

Our 2013 CSA is accepting new members and it’s going to be delicious! Read more about us in Addie Broyles’ story, “After long battle over water, Tecolote Farm finally moves on“.

Statesman photo credit

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Farmer David on Community-Supported Agriculture

Outside of the Agro-industrial Pipeline

by David Pitre

Happy New Year! Here’s to Health and Peace for all of us. As always, we are excited about the coming year on the farm. One of the common traits successful farmers share is a poor memory, which allows us to specifically forget the trials, tribulations, and sore muscles of the past year while getting all giddy about the fresh young plants in the greenhouse ready to go in the ground. It’s wonderful to be able to start fresh each year.

As many of you know, we have struggled with water issues on our farm. This year we are starting to develop for farming new land about 12 miles east of us. We have planted onions there and hope to grow some of our potatoes, melons, and winter squash.  The soil there is wonderfully rich and water appears to be plentiful. We are very thankful that the opportunity for the new land arose and that we are making it work as a new farm.

You, our CSA members and regular farmers market shoppers, may not know it, but you are doing something radical.  You are supporting and investing in a relationship that flies in the face of the anonymous global marketplace.  You are creating a direct connection between the growing of the food that sustains you and your family. It is a personal relationship built on trust and respect. As we make decisions on the farm, and grow and harvest produce, we have many of your faces in our minds. It is similar to the visions of family or friends you hold as you cook in your kitchen. You have their health and happiness in mind as you cook, and it guides how you do it. This gives great meaning to what we do, and is in contrast to conventional or mono-crop large scale organic farms  that anonymously feed into the world’s agro-industrial pipeline. For those types of farmers there is little incentive to produce the best they are able because it all gets mixed in with every other farm’s product. The effect is that they only try and meet the lowest common denominator, and the bar continually lowers. Anyone that is older can attest to the fact that food quality, flavor, and nutrition is not what it was. By participating in our CSA, or weekly market,  relationship, you are receiving great, delicious, nutritious food that was grown with concern for the earth and the workers, but you are also demonstrating that our food system can be one that is honest and healthy, one that values integrity and compassion.

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January 2012 Flood

The first month of the new year is coming to a close, and a soggy, fecund close it is. Photos of Decker Creek and most of Tecolote Farm flooding have been astounding many of you. Living on a perennial creek quite literally has its Ups and Downs! We have seen the creek rise like this several times in the 19 years we’ve lived here, but last Wednesday night’s rain took the prize for the most rain we’ve ever had in 24 hours. We topped 6 inches here at the main farm, and the River Farm in Bastrop County had closer to 7 inches! The vegetables are out of the flood plain, though, by design, so we were able to come to market last Saturday with an abundant supply of greens, roots, herbs, and broccoli. We’ll be back again for the first Saturday of February at the downtown market. The Swiss Chard is more beautiful than ever, with its rainbow of Bright Light colors fully saturated in the overcast wet environment. Hurray for replenishment!

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Lorig’s New Year Epiphany

Why I’m returning

by Lorig Hawkins, Tecolote Farm Manager-in-Training

     On the last day of 2011, I proudly put my first full farm journal on my bookshelves. I was so giddy and proud at the fact that I have been farming, or rather, learning how to farm, for a year!   You see, from the moment I knew this work was for me I have documented every moment I have spent farming. For all you super geeks out there you will be happy to note I have gone one step further and after re-reading my notes I have indexed everything into topics that I can then reference in a larger notebook. Whether it was at Urban Roots, Tecolote Farm, or any other farm I’ve visited, I’ve made a point to write down everything I could remember from that day, as small as it seemed.  Because believe me, if you listen closely, are aware, and work really hard to see the bigger picture and make connections, you learn something extremely valuable every time you step foot in the fields. And I couldn’t be more fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from David and Katie at Tecolote.  He may say it flippantly or in passing but David will make comments that will guide you forever as a farmer; you just have to be listening.  And guys, I’m listening and writing it all down!

And as I shelve that first year notebook I eagerly pick up the next one, labeled 2012.  This year I will continue at Tecolote for their regular spring/summer CSA season.  I am returning for more, hungry to learn, hungry to work and sweat and ache, and hungry to continue meeting people who care about their food, and their farmers, and care about making it all accessible.  I am so excited about days of tying square knots on every single tomato plant down multiple rows in the dead of afternoon. I can’t wait to pick up ungodly heavy black crates full of sweet melons, only to have to carry them in sand, where with each step you will yourself to hold on for just a bit longer.  I look forward to grubbing for potatoes and the way it burns your knees because the sand is so hot and you have to kneel.  I look forward to cracked and cut hands and bruised elbows and knees because it’s all part of the job.  I am eager to take on more responsibility and learn as a manager how to lead and keep people excited about farming, how to encourage our team to work hard because it’s us versus the big guns and we need all the committed help we can get. I look forward to my team helping me grow as a person and challenge me to be better every moment of every day that I step out to lead and work. I am so thankful to get another chance to grow food for wonderful people and feel proud of our work.  And I can’t wait to learn more, and continue to learn everyday for the rest of my life, for I will be farming for the rest of my days. So here’s to another year of farming, and another notebook for my shelf.

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2012 CSA Sign-ups & RAIN!!!

Now taking 2012 CSA sign-ups!

2012 CSA Subscription Agreements coming soon (within the next two days)-              email me at 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.

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First Fall CSA ever off to a great start

We had a wicked 22° wake-up last Friday morning, which gave us quite a scare. Although we had much of the field covered in anticipation of the low 30s, we couldn’t possibly have covered everything. The cucumber and squash plants were flattened, and any pepper and eggplant rows we hadn’t covered were toast. Everything suffered a little-even the cold-hardy beet and turnip tops were cringing, but as you can see from today’s basket, plenty survived with nutritional and aesthetic radiance. Our fear was that the head lettuces would be history, but just look at that romaine! We’ll have red iceberg for you next week, and probably beets as well. As my father, a lifelong citrus farmer, tells us, “You know you’re the biggest gamblers there are.” That’s farming. But the payoff is worth it at dinnertime. Our eldest, Zachary, will come home from India next Sunday. We are daydreaming of our first meal all together again, sharing life over dinner.Thanks for your support & appreciation of good food. Now, may the freezes be light and the baskets be heavy.

October 24, 2011

Welcome to the First Ever Fall Tecolote Basket Season!

“Wonder of wonder, miracle, miracle!” Here we go with our first-ever Fall CSA at Tecolote Farm! It didn’t seem like such a bad idea at the time: taking July off of our regular basket season to celebrate our two eldest children’s graduations from High School and Middle School, to show them that even farm kids can  occasionally have a summer vacation worthy of a first day back –to-school essay.  It didn’t seem like such a bad idea that we would make up for this lapse from real life by having a Fall CSA season. But then September was in the 110s, or at least never below 95. Not a drop fell from the sky. Nearby Bastrop County burned. Our first plantings of salad greens, turnips, leafy greens were germinating poorly or being overwhelmed by weed pressure; our green beans couldn’t tolerate the heat; the struggle to keep the ground moist in high winds and record-breaking heat made it all seem for naught.  First plantings of many things were tilled in as failures. Yet here we are today: eating turnips roasted and greens braised, chard in our omelettes and squash fritters for dinner. It’s vibrant, nutritious, and delicious. Hooray for risks taken and harvests earned! Hooray for an inch-and-a-half rain that quells the despair and the soil temperature to boot!

Thanks for coming on board with us– we’re so glad you will be eating what we’re eating for the next 4-9 weeks of what’s got to be my favorite season in Texas: the one farthest away from the next hot spell! Your support of local family farms is an investment worth taking. Your choice to buy direct from a farmer cuts out some cost and definitely gets you the freshest, tastiest produce money can buy. We appreciate your trust & support, and appreciate your commitment to eating well.  Now, let’s eat!

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Local Food Fair on October 23 to celebrate inaugural FOOD DAY

Local Food Fair to celebrate Austin’s CSA farmers, local farmers markets, and other ways to get locally-grown food! Kick off the inaugural national Food Day a day early with a Local Food Fair in the pecan tree-shaded two acre yard behind Third Coast Activist Resource Center at the wonderful 5604 Manor Road Austin, TX 78723. Our farm will be set up there with information on our CSA and some produce for sale. Other CSA farms and farmers market reps, along with local delivery services, will be there to answer questions about their services. Music by the Kudzoo Brothers will keep our toes tapping. Cooking demonstrations on the hour at our sponsors, the Sustainable Food Center‘s tasting tent. Let us know if you’re coming with an RSVP here at the Food Day website!

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New well for the River Farm

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.

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Keeping the faith

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 long answer is, “We are doing everything we can to ensure a varied and bountiful crop for fall baskets, but are losing a lot to the heat and low soil moisture. Baskets will be $33, as before, and a rough estimate now is a 4-6 week season.
Luckily, our new Bastrop County land was not touched by the fires. We have friends who have lost their homes, and a neighbor who lost her brother, to the wildfires. It is at times like these that we count our blessings and remember those who are suffering most directly. Thanks for keeping the wildfire victims and Texas farmers in your thoughts and prayers.

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The end of August

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!

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