HausBar Farms Delights Kids During Spring Break

Animals and vegetables are the focus of half-day urban farm camp

When Dorsey Barger sold her interest in Eastside Cafe a year ago, she envisioned a life much like generations of her family before her had enjoyed.

Chickens head out for breakfast (photo Gracie Salem)

Barger's parents and grandparents ran summer kids’ camps in Northeastern Pennsylvania during her childhood and, after more than 20 years of getting her her hands dirty in the rows of lovely vegetables behind the beloved Eastside Cafe, she was ready to bring those spheres of her world together.

Welcome to HausBar Farms, a beautiful, abundant working farm in East Austin, where Barger has started her first half-day farming camp for kids this Spring Break. From 9 - 1pm for the rest of this week, kids can get right up close to chickens in all stages of life, from egg to full-grown rooster; hundreds of bunnies, including some just days old; and two adorable miniature donkeys, Julian and Rosie.

When Barger and her partner purchased the two acres off Pleasant Valley Road three years ago, they moved a darling house from West Austin to the front of the property at 3300 Govalle Avenue and started constructing the farm, which is a safe, enchanting maze of pens, corrals, and rows and rows of gorgeous vegetables.

My seven-year-old daughter, Lux, was among the campers on day one. She ate broccoli right off the stalk, identified carrots in the garden, and learned the difference between the root of the vegetable and its foliage. The morning started with letting the hundred or so chickens out of the barn for the morning dash to the feeding area. It was an amazing display of flapping and running even to this experienced farm gal, and the children laughed with delight.

Gustavo the goose (photo Gracie Salem)

Gustavo, an incredibly domesticated goose, followed our group around like a sweet warden, leading the line of kids to and from areas of the farm. Gustavo is very friendly, allowing campers to stroke his velvety soft feathers, and even spent a minute or two perched upon this writer’s head, which got the biggest laughs of the day.

A handmade corn tortilla, hot off the comal (Photo Gracie Salem)

A mid-morning break allowed for each camper to press his and her own corn tortilla, which were browned on a griddle and served along with lunch. It was, hands down, the best corn tortilla I’ve ever eaten.

Lux with a soft, sweet bunny in her lap (photo Gracie Salem)

After lunch, the true highlight of the day, was visiting the main bunny pen, where 60 or so bunnies were given apples slices, kale stalks, and broccoli stems by the children, who were instructed to sit still and wait for the bunnies to come to them. It worked, and, soon enough, everyone had a bunny in their lap. Simple joys were discovered all day. Local musician Laura Freeman was on hand for help with campers and to teach lots of songs. The chicken song, the bunny song, you get the picture.

The camp still has open spots for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday sessions for children ages five to 12 and costs a very reasonable $40 per child. I can think of no better way for a kid to spend the morning.As we waved goodbye to Dorsey and Gustavo, Lux looked up at me and said, “Can we come back tomorrow?” That’s all any parent needs to hear.

HausBar Farm Spring Break Camp

3300 Govalle Ave 512/577-4731

Monday, March 11 through Friday, March 15, 9am-1pm

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HausBar Farms Spring Break Camp, HausBar Farm, Dorsey Barger, Eastside Cafe, Laura Freeman, chickens, bunnies, minature donkeys, geese, growing fresh vegetables

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