Springdale Farm and Eden East to Stay Open Through (at Least) 2019
Help Barrow and Coté save one of Austin’s favorite green spaces
By Alexandra Detmar,
4:40PM, Wed. Nov. 14, 2018
After being sold to developers and projected to close, East Austin’s beloved Springdale Farm seemed all but over. Local restaurants, urban farms, and supporters all grieved the end of a vibrant era and the loss of more green space. But thanks to the stewardship of David Barrow and Sonya Coté, Springdale remains fruitful as ever.
Longtime friends with Glenn and Paula Foore, Coté has operated Eden East on-site since 2012 while Barrow, her partner, played a more peripheral role, supporting both businesses through video production. When the developers approached them about taking over the farm, Barrow and Coté looked to the Foores for their blessing. As the news broke that Foores had sold the farm to focus on health and family, the two couples were already planning an efficient transition in leadership.
Six months of negotiations and a spring full of intensive collaborative work is now paying off with a bountiful harvest: 26 varieties of planted produce, continued support of restaurant accounts, and new faces showing up to the biweekly farmstand. With the Foores and other urban farmers on speed dial, Barrow tinkers and toils endlessly alongside two long-time employees of the farm.
Barrow, who tabled his filmmaking work and teaching at the Art Institute in order to get a crash course in urban farming, says his priority in making the change is to “continually preserve the land as long as possible,” as their lease through 2019 allows. For him, having the chance to support produce accessibility, educate youngsters, and collaborate with other urban farmers was an easy and satisfying choice. He continues the Foores' legacy by hosting school tours twice per week, and has started programs with AISD’s Clifton Career Development School and Alternative Learning Center, leading lessons in farming, science, culinary arts, business and more. He and Coté will even be sitting on the community advisory board to help place these students in healthy, constructive work environments later in life.
As Coté operates her growing group of restaurants and cultivates her staff, chef Emma Sanchez oversees dinner at Eden East, which continues to charm adventurous diners with unthinkable-yet-thoughtful monthly menus featuring produce grown only yards away from the communal tables and servers who care for ingredients as if they’ve grown them themselves (some of them have!).
Acknowledging that “developer” is a four-letter word for many Austinites, Barrow cites cooperation and enthusiasm on the part of PSW Real Estate, who, post-2019, wish to have Eden East become a flagship for the land, and for some semblance of farming to remain integral to the property. However, as nothing is set in stone, he urges locals to come and enjoy the space while they can, whether it be for a family walk, to pick up dinner ingredients at the farm stand, to host a family or business event, or to taste the bounty of the farm as envisioned by Coté.
And after the land is developed? Barrow’s eyes twinkle as he hints at a plan of a next location, but the details remain a secret for now. What he can say is that he and Coté want to touch as many people as possible, and maintain the spirit of Springdale moving forward.
The farmstand will be open the Wednesday and Saturday before and after Thanksgiving, as well as the Saturday before Christmas, 9am - 1pm, offering fresh produce, handmade goods, and brunch for shoppers.
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