Community Gardens to Fulfill Your Secret Farmer Fantasy
Local veggie spots and how to get a plot of your own
By Melanie Laporte,
7:00AM, Sat. Oct. 27, 2018
Do you live in a dorm or tiny apartment? Have pets intent on annihilating anything with leaves but still want to grow something besides the basil mutating on your windowsill? Check out these community gardens to raise tomatoes with your own hands and guarantee you full farmer bragging rights. Just bring seeds and get your hands dirty.
Sunshine Community Garden4814 Sunshine Dr.
This granddaddy of Austin garden culture was hatched in 1979 on land leased from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It offers about 245 farming plots for the more than 300 active members to grow food and flowers. Three sizes of plots are available – full, half, quarter – from $40-90/year or $20-50/six months. Email email@example.com for the waiting list. There’s also free wood mulch courtesy of the city of Austin (just bring tools and a truck), educational opportunities, mandatory seasonal service hours, and plots designated to grow fresh produce for the Micah 6 Food Bank, helping hungry Austinites, and enhancing your karma.
Black Shear Community Garden2011 E. Ninth
In the spring of 2008, Black Shear opened on a small vacant city lot and blossomed with a heavy push from surrounding residents into an urban oasis offering 14 5’x10’ & 10’x10’ plus two shared 4’x4’ community plots. There’s no waiting list, and anyone can join, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org. It's $50 per season or $100 per year (sliding scale), first come, first dig. Gardeners with plots are required to put in eight hours of community work, like weeding and composting, per season. Come for the group potlucks and work parties, and stay for the chickens!
Patterson Park Community Garden4200 Brookview Rd.
After a six year crusade, this labor of love finally broke ground in 2015 providing the Patterson Park neighborhood with more than 42 plots plus a giving garden, insect house, three-step lasagna composting, and monkey pumpkin patch. Sign up here www.pattersonparkcommunitygarden.wordpress.com/bylaws-and-member-agreement to become a member; yearly fees are about $25. Keep your eyes open for the family of possums living under the shed, you might see a young joey waddle out.
New Day Community Garden2215 E M. Franklin
Make time to be a part of this space started in 2011 that's committed to providing healthy food for families and people with low incomes, building community, beautifying the neighborhood, and promoting sustainable living. How’s that for a mission? A $20 non-refundable membership fee and $15-60 per-year rent gets you a small, half, or full plot. Help produce the roughly 10% of the harvest to local food banks. Email email@example.com to get your heart glowing.
St. David’s Foundation Community Garden2907 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
For $50 per year and two volunteer hours per month, any Austin resident can rent one of the 30 20’x10’ ground-level and raised-bed plots in this garden located behind the East MLK MetroRail stop and next to Sustainable Food Center's Teaching Garden. Contact SDFCommunityGarden@gmail.com to be added to the waiting list. Scholarships are available for special needs and low income citizens. St. David’s accepts compost material, so drop off that bag of banana peels you’ve been saving for the compost you’re probably not making any time soon.
Windsor Park Garden5801 Westminster Dr.
Windsor Park was founded by the Keep Austin Beautiful campaign in 2005 on land owned by the Mennonite Church next door to the Windsor Park Library. It's currently one of the few spaces actively seeking gardeners, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org to start digging. For $40 per year, anyone can share in its vision to create a mini ecosystem which improves the land, feeds people, provides habitat and food for wildlife, builds community, educates the public, and provides recreation and respite (phew). The garden offers twenty-six 4’x10’ plots, a large bedded community garden, and harvest area. Pick a snack from one of the peach, Mexican plum, persimmon, and loquat trees to go with your ThunderCloud sub.
Deep Eddy Community GardenAnn and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
Founded in 1983, the second oldest community garden in Austin boasts rich, fertile soil due to deep river silt from past flooding. Growing all of your favorite crops is a breeze on one of the 20’x20’ plots for roughly $100 per year. Email email@example.com to join and see deer, rabbits, and birds of all types. Just make sure the wildlife doesn't eat all of your hard work.
South Austin Community Garden2800 S. Fifth
Started in the early 2000s, South Austin Community Garden was demolished years later by condo builders. Don't add this to your list of reasons to hate developers as the builders followed through on a promise to make a bigger and better garden. They set a precedent for urban living through smarter planning to incorporate green spaces in the midst of so much concrete. Completely open to public, it’s laced with walking trails and spanking new fig, peach, plum, and pear trees. 2000 gallon rainwater tanks, butterfly and herb gardens, and mason bees dot the landscape. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and in less than six months you can have some dirt of your own. Pay the $25 non-refundable deposit then choose one of the 30 6’x20’-30’ plots at $18-60. And if an entire plot is too much commitment, split it with another person and still have time for brunch.
Adelphi Acre Community Garden3701 Adelphi
From Adelphi’s inception and thanks to robust community outreach, the surrounding neighborhood has adopted it as a meeting place where people feel like part of the garden. Work groups enjoy picnic lunches under shaded trees, and the local scout troops regularly host events, even going so far as to donate an herb circle and bee hotel. If you live north, contact www.adelphiacre.org/get-involved/join-our-plot-wait-list for the preferential 2 mile in-radius wait list or jump on the out-of-radius wait list to rent one of the 75 4’x12’ or 10’x10’ ($36-60) plots. If you’re going gray waiting, become a plotless volunteer for $10 per year. In cooperation with Tree Folks, Adelphi built an orchard with deer resistant trees like mulberry, fig, pear, and persimmon. They donate a whopping 40 pounds of fresh vegetables and herbs per month to local food pantries serving almost 100 appreciative families per week, as well as offering scholarships and plots to refugee groups and low income families.
Clarksville Community Garden1703 Waterston
Located behind the historic Haskill House, this little jewel in an urban setting has an especially long waitlist. But at $20 per year for a 4’x12’ plot in one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods, the wait is much shorter if you live in the surrounding Clarksville blocks. Contact email@example.com to check it out.
UT Micro Farm2204 Leona
Are you a UT student or faculty member interested in supplementing your Austin Pizza and Starbucks diet with some fresh vegetables? Then hit up Micro, the University of Texas’ first student-run, on-campus farm offering the opportunity to learn about food equity and sustainability. Be sure to mention any projects you’d like to try (e.g., collecting rainwater), they’re probably open to it. There’s no waiting list and they are currently building wheelchair accessible plots, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a 4’×4’ or 4’×8’ plot at $10-15 per semester. Save up your coins because do you really need another pumpkin spice latte?
Gus Garcia Recreation Center1201 E. Rundberg
It's two gardens in one: the open-to-the-public Gus Garcia Community Garden and the members-only Serenity Senior Garden. Gus Garcia is accepting newbies living in the surrounding community to farm one of their 30 5’x16’ beds for $50 per year and any senior can garden Serenity for free. Don’t hesitate, sign up at email@example.com.
Festival Beach Community Garden21 Waller
After a months-long wait list at www.festivalbeachgarden.com/contact, join this eight-year-old 2 acre garden which produces its own compost for $80 per plot per year. Festival Beach sends fresh vegetables to the kitchens of the Rebekah Baines Johnson Tower independent living facility. Some of their residents with mobility issues also farm this garden thanks to raised accessible beds and special ADA compliant tools. Develop friendships with a diverse group of people from a Covington middle school cheerleader to a Wuzhou octogenarian growing bitter melon.
Cherry Creek Community GardenClarmac Drive
Founded in 2015 on city-owned floodplain land where 25 pre-flood houses once stood, this garden produces such mainstays as tomatoes and okra in addition to Texas native wildflowers. For details, contact www.cherrycreekgraden.com and get on the six month to 2-3 year-long waiting list. Don’t fret, there are other involvement opportunities: Garden Supporter Membership ($50/season or $100/year) or Basic Garden Membership ($10/season). Any member can harvest from communal plot and all produce goes to nearby senior centers.
North Austin YMCA Community Garden1000 W Rundberg
Garden plots are first come, first served so don’t delay in contacting firstname.lastname@example.org for one of the 4’x10’-12’ beds for $50-90 or 3’x10’ ADA accessible beds for $37.50 per year. All are welcome, all are welcome.
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Sunshine Community Garden, Black Shear Community Garden, Patterson Park Community Garden, New Day Community Garden, St. David's Foundation Community Garden, Windsor Park Garden, Deep Eddy Community Garden, South Austin Community Garden, Adelphi Acre Community Garden, Clarksville Community Garden, UT Micro Farm, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, Festival Beach Community Garden, Cherry Creek Community Garden, North Austin YMCA Community Garden, community gardens, community and youth gardens, gardening, gardens, vegetables