Get ready for a rollicking party in East Austin’s urban farmlands next weekend. The 4th Annual East Austin Urban Farm Tour will be held on Sunday, April 14 from 1 to 5 pm, and, aside from the regular family-friendly fun times you’d expect at these farms, there will be a plethora of food and drink on offer from an all-star cast of local chefs, restaurants and producers.
“Although we like to think the highlight is the farms, we know people come for the food,” says Paula Foore, co-owner of Springdale Farm, which is participating in the tour. “The food is amazing.”
Local stars, including Wink, Dai Due, Hillside Farmacy and Olivia (among many others), will be offering chef tastes, and drink purveyors like East End Wines and Live Oak Brewery will have samples of wine, beer and spirits on offer, too. There will be four or five food and beverage options at each farm, and the farms’ produce is the highlight of the menus.
Of course, while the food and drink may be the main draw for the grown-ups, there is plenty on offer for kids, too.
“I’m a mom, and visiting farms for kids is just such a great experience,” says Kim Beal of Rain Lily Farm, which is also participating in the tour. “Kids don’t have as much an opportunity, especially in the city, to see things growing, to see animals. That’s the part the kids usually love — the animals.”
And plenty of animals there are. Between the donkeys, rabbits, goats, chickens and ducks, the little ones are likely to be in hog heaven (pardon the pun).
The East Austin Urban Farm Tour came about as a partnership between four urban farms in East Austin — Boggy Creek Farm, Haus Bar Farms, Springdale Farm and Rain Lily Farm — to raise awareness of their presence and invite the community to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“We’re all really good friends, and we’ve all gotten really close being here and supporting each other,” says Beal. “Even though we’re so close [physically], we tend to be kind of isolated.”
The tour is an opportunity for the farms to come together and spend an afternoon with the community.
“It’s a chance to see everybody’s farm in the spring when things are pretty,” says Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm. “It’s a big social thing and the community comes, and it’s just fun.”
Each of the farmers also sees the tour as an opportunity to raise awareness of what they’re doing and engage with the community.
“Anybody coming to the farms has a chance, if they want to, to come and see some of the nuts and bolts of how a farm operates,” says Dorsey Barger, co-owner of HausBar Farms. “We’re introducing people, not only kids, to how food gets made. A farm is a living organism, and to see how all the living elements work together on a farm is amazing.”
The cost for a ticket is $45 ($55 for day-of sales, if available), but kids under 12 are free. All proceeds go to support the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a lobbying organization for small farms and ranches. Advance tickets may be purchased here, and planners say the event is likely to sell out.
This year they’ve limited it to 400 tickets, with a quarter of the participants assigned to start at each of the four farms. They’re hoping to avoid lines for the food and spread out the crowds. Although good weather is predicted, the event is rain or shine.
“Farming is rain or shine, and if it rains, we’re giddy with excitement,” says Sayle. “Most of the people who are interested in this sort of thing know we need rain, so they understand. Just bring your umbrella!”
The farms are all in the same approximate neighborhood, so participants are encouraged to walk or ride bikes.
“All of the farms are within a half-mile of each other, so biking is perfect,” says Foore, adding that participants can drive or walk, too.
Beal, who has a 16-month-old daughter, has some sage advice for parents: “Make sure you’ve got everything you need for the kids. It’s a short walk between each farm, but it can seem like a long distance for little kids.” Strollers and bike trailers are encouraged.
As an added bonus, you have the collective expertise of Austin’s most experienced farmers at your fingertips. “Bring your questions, so we can help with your gardening issues,” says Foore.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/lauren.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Lauren Walz is a freelance writer and editor and mama to a two-year-old girl. While she’s quick to brag about being a fifth-generation Texan, Lauren moved to Northern California in 2004 after graduating from UT Law and lived in the Silicon Valley area until last spring, when she and her family were drawn back to Austin. Lauren is busy getting re-acquainted with her old stomping grounds and is astonished by how the food and wine scene has changed in Austin in the past 8 years. Lauren also blogs about cooking and parenthood on gourmetveggiemama.com.[/author_info] [/author]