East Austin urban farmers get together to showcase their livelihood

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Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

From sunrise to sunset, husband and wife Larry and Carol Ann Sayle spend their days tilling and harvesting on their Boggy Creek Farm while their chickens, ducks and goats roam the lot. This picturesque image may sound like it’s pulled straight from a nursery rhyme, but listen closely and you’ll hear the soft hum of motors on I-35.

Boggy Creek Farm is one of four urban farms to be featured in the 8th Annual East Austin Urban Farm Tour held this coming Sunday. The tour allows local and out-of-town attendees to visit these farms, try recipes prepared by top Austin chefs, sample farm-fresh ingredients and sip wine from local merchants. 

Carol Ann Sayle decided to organize an urban farm tour to showcase the abundance of crops and ingredients produced by the urban farms in East Austin. 

“We wanted people to see what farms were doing and could do and inspire people to garden,” Sayle said. “The first year we had about 250 people.” 

Before the urban farm tour was even an idea, Carol Ann Sayle and Larry Sayle bought their house in 1992 to start their farm — one of the first in the area. They named it Boggy Creek Farm after the inactive creek that used to run behind the house. 

In order to ensure fresh ingredients, Carol Ann Sayle said Boggy Creek Farm harvests every day. On top of maintaining their farm, the duo also run a farm stand by their house throughout the year.

Between property taxes and the modest earnings from farming, Carol Ann Sayle said farming in the city isn’t always easy. However, the farm stand helps support the farm and makes it possible to farm on a small scale. 

Aside from introducing urban farms to a wider audience, the tour also attracts sponsors. For several years now, it has been hosted by Farmhouse Delivery, a company that delivers organic farm produce and milk to members anywhere they need.

Lisa Tridle, marketing and events manager for Farmhouse Delivery, said getting involved with the tour and sponsoring the event was mutually beneficial for her company and the farmers involved with the tour.  

“Urban farming is a community of people,” Tridle said. “We have a direct connection to the mission of the urban farms when you get into what Farmhouse Delivery does and who we work with, which are small farms that raise food ethically.”

This mission of supporting farming translates to beneficiaries of the event. Profits from the tour go to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a national organization that advocates for independent farming and healthy food products. 

Teresa Davenport, the communications and outreach director for FARFA, said the donations from the tour greatly benefit the alliance, which runs on a low-budget, and enable FARFA to head to the capitol to find sponsors for the organization’s cause.  

Carol Ann Sayle said the tour has practically been a success every year. In past years, line control has become a challenge for the farmers because of the increasing popularity of the event. Last year during the tour not even rain seemed to thin the crowds. 

“It was crazy,” Carol Ann Sayle said. “Nobody canceled. Everybody just came in their umbrellas and boots and everything. The streets were just full of colors.” 

On the tour’s eighth year, Carol Ann Sayle said the event has become a win-win situation for the farmers, sponsors and FARFA and she expects to keep holding it as it continues to benefit that community.  

“Seeing urban farms flourish in an area that is increasingly becoming more urban by the minute feels good,” Davenport said.