Phoenix Farms Rising
Kickstarter campaign raises funds for local farm
By Anna Toon, 10:45AM, Thu. Apr. 11, 2013
While the average age of an American farmer is nearing 60 years old, in recent years the organic farming movement has experienced an uptick in younger people looking to challenge the norms of conventional farming. As agribusiness moves full steam ahead, it will be up to this new crop of farmers to continue the movement toward a more sustainable food system.
According to Farmer Veteran Coalition founder Michael Gorman: "The culmination of our need to eat more healthfully, a fast-growing US population, and an aging farmer population creates a situation of tremendous opportunity and challenge in American agriculture. We need new farmers like never before and, most importantly, we need them to succeed."
Phoenix Farms, a family-owned and operated farm in Bastrop, Texas, is hoping to fill the void. The farm recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to build a teaching center and commercial kitchen. Based on the fundamental notion of working with nature instead of against, the goal of the teaching center will be to educate the new generation of farmers and home gardeners.
Last Sunday, Ellen Rozman of Locavore Next Door hosted a fundraiser for Phoenix Farms at Olive & June. The event featured local bites and sips and a panel of local food experts. Moderated by Marla Camp of Edible Austin, the panel included Nathan Heath, founder and owner of Phoenix Farms; Jesse Griffiths, chef and owner of Dai Due; Shawn Cirkiel, chef and owner of Olive & June, parkside, and the backspace; Valerie Broussard, forager at Trace; Bryce Gilmore, chef and owner of Barley Swine; and sous chef Sam Hellman-Mass of Barley Swine. Conversation centered on convenience and scalability - moving efficiently to get more locally sourced food to the plate. Sourcing locally requires communication between chefs and farmers and also a clear method of distribution. According to Bryce Gilmore, "while sourcing locally isn't always convenient, it's more fulfilling." Permitting was also on everyone's mind. With the closing of HausBar Farms panelists voiced concerns with the city's permitting process, questioning the necessity of egregious costs and requirements.
The opportunity to contribute ends May 9th. For more information or to donate to Phoenix Farms, click here.