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Boggy Creek Farm: The First Modern-day Urban Farm in Austin

by Jem Guinto
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Boggy Creek Farm: The First Modern-day Urban Farm in Austin

Boggy Creek Farm offers a slice of the history of Austin, giving its visitors a unique glimpse of life in mid-19th century Austin. A couple, Carol Ann Sayle and her late husband Larry Butler, owns and operates the historic working urban farm with their daughter. Almost every city nowadays has a farmers’ market — but it’s also nice to set foot on farms every once in a while and just grab your produce supplies right away, right?

 

The inspiration behind

Boggy Creek Farm

They purchased land in the 1980s in Larry’s hometown of Gause in Milam Co, Texas, and started growing produce there. Then in 1992, they purchased a foreclosed historic property in need of a tremendous amount of TLC and restoration, with rich bottomland soil, right in Austin — it was everything in accordance with their dream of being able to have a farm in the city, closer to the consumers.

They meticulously restored Boggy Creek through the years since then, growing vegetables and initially selling them at a farm stand in front of Wiggy’s Liquor on 6th/Blanco.

 

Humble beginnings

Boggy Creek Farm

The land was originally farmed in 1841 when it was a rural agricultural outlet of the city. For much of its 179 years, it has been farmland. In 1992, Larry and Carol Ann bought the abandoned urban 5 acres — along with its 1841 farmhouse — and meticulously restored it to grow vegetables.

They sold their fresh produce at farmer’s markets, to Fresh Plus, and Whole Foods. Growing only a few miles away, at that time they offered the freshest produce the stores had ever carried. 

In 1994, they no longer attended farmer’s markets. They began to sell directly from the on-site farmstand where people could come and see where their food was actually being grown. Boggy Creek Farm and its farmers had a great reputation and had a loyal customer base. The community loved coming out to the little piece of heaven right in the middle of Central East Austin.

 

The early challenges

Penetrating the industry wasn’t entirely difficult for Boggy Creek Farm — simply because nobody else was doing it then, definitely not in town. They were the first modern-day urban farm in Austin. Since then, they were dedicated to growing the cleanest, freshest, and most nutrient-dense produce while taking care of the environment sustainably.

The only real difficulty was competing with grocery stores and it was hard to get out the fact that they were in Austin, not East of Austin! Shortly after, others sure did follow their direction. Although instead of driving them away, Boggy Creek Farm did a lot of mentoring.

Boggy Creek Farm

Larry had the biggest personality and made everyone feel like they were his favorite person in the world. He was brilliant and loved to share his knowledge with others. Carol Ann had a huge following for her weekly newsletters called News of the Farm. A very talented writer with great stories of the trials and tribulations of the farm, she ended each story with what people could find on the market tables that week,

 

Farm products

Boggy Creek Farm’s produce is supplemented with goods from other local farms and ranches. In addition to the produce they grow and *produce, the farm also purchases and sells different goods from the following:

Sometimes you may also find Larry’s whole canned tomatoes, kimchi, pickles, jams, hand-ground, fresh cornmeal, and more when you visit!

Boggy Creek Farm

*Carol Ann makes beautiful bouquets for Wednesday and Saturday markets.

 

What sets them apart

Boggy Creek Farm

On a typical market day, they harvest their crops until 11:00 am to ensure that the produce is hyper-fresh. This way, their products are more nutritious because of how fresh they are — as close to alive as possible by the time their customers put it into their mouths.

People also enjoy walking around and seeing the crops growing in the field, the farmers harvesting, and taking care of the crops. They leave with a satisfaction that only Boggy Creek Farm can offer in Austin:

We are a regenerative farm. The tractors don’t enter the field — compacting the soil, drying it out, releasing carbon, killing the soil life. We, instead, focus on the health of the soil, caring for the micro-organisms living there. We try not to disturb the soil any more than necessary, allowing carbon to remain banked,” 

Happy soil produces healthier plants and fruits which passes on to the people who consume these. Along with their regenerative farming approach, they do not use harmful pesticides and fertilizers.

As a matter of fact, Boggy Creek Farm has always been making their own compost and irrigated with well water. Their well gets 7 gallons per minute! They supplemented with rainwater for nearly 30 years, and just recently  — with a grant from Austin Food and Wine Alliance and Luck Reunion — they have installed a rainwater catchment system to irrigate their greenhouse and hoop houses.

 

What to look out for

Boggy Creek Farm

Plans are in the pipeline for the farm to continue far into the future! The couple’s daughter, Tracy,  helped start the farm before marrying, raising a family, and having a career. Currently, she’s back home at the farm and her kids share her passion — all determined to make sure that the farm is safe from developers forever!

She has been looking into different possibilities and wants to be sure that both their community and visitors will always be able to escape the city while taking a step back in time at Boggy Creek Farm. People are sure to experience healing when they spend time on the farm which, honestly, is a nice treat for the soul.

 

Insider Tip: Boggy Creek Farm is also a great site for small social distancing events, lectures, dinners, meetings… any gathering with about 30 people is perfect!

If you want to purchase from their on-site farm stand, give them a visit from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Although, to make sure, visit their website for more information regarding their site schedule.

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