Sarah's Party, a benefit for Sarah Rowland of Hairston Creek Farm, will feature locally produced foods and beverages and a silent auction
No sooner were the finishing touches put on last week's very successful Stephen Is One in a Million benefit than I began getting e-mail messages that an equally important member of another local constituency is seriously ill. Gary and Sarah Rowland are one of four couples who pioneered the modern organic farm and farmers' market movement in Central Texas in the early Nineties. The Rowlands' contributions to the development of area farmers' markets have been wide-ranging and steadfast. Their Hairston Creek Farm(www.hairstoncreekfarm.com) near Burnet supports the Rowlands' family of five, provides organic produce to several families through shares in its community-supported agriculture program, and has been a regular vendor in the Sunset Valley Farmers Market (www.sunsetvalleyfarmersmarket.org) since its inception years ago in West Lake Hills. In fact, market founder Pamela Boyar describes Sarah Rowland as her "silent partner" in that market and credits Sarah's depth of knowledge and wise counsel as important contributing factors in the market's great success. Recently, the Rowland family received the devastating news that Sarah has an aggressive form of breast cancer that has metastasized to other organs. She is currently undergoing treatment and is unable to work. Farming requires nothing so much as teamwork, and Sarah's illness leaves Hairston Creek Farm without a crucial component of the team effort required to make a small family farm profitable. Even with insurance, catastrophic illness can be devastating to working families. That is why other area farmer families are rallying around the Rowlands – enlisting the support of market managers, area restaurant chefs, and artisan food and beverage producers to participate in a benefit for Sarah Rowland. Even if you've never met the Rowlands or shopped at their market booth, if you appreciate the growing availability of good organic produce in Austin and the strength of our local farmers' markets, they are a big part of the reason we have those things to enjoy. Here is how you can thank them. Mark and Melanie McAfee of the Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle Rd., 926-6907, www.barrmansion.com) are making their facilities available for a fantastic tasting event on Thursday, May 29. Sarah's Party will feature signature dishes created by area chefs with bountiful Central Texas produce donated by area farmers, locally produced artisan foods and beverages, live music, and a silent auction. This event is being put together in the same spirit and by some of the same people who rallied the community in support of the folks at Boggy Creek Farm (www.boggycreekfarm.com) after their home was damaged by a tornado in November 2001. It's in keeping with the pioneer spirit of farmers who help one another raise barns, harvest crops, and weather storms. Once again, the public has the opportunity to enjoy a great party and lend a hand in time of need. Ticket prices will range from $20 and up, depending on the level at which guests would like to donate. For more info about the event and to buy tickets online, go to www.austinfarm.org/rowland. Donations can be made directly to the family at 4300 CR 335, Burnet, TX 78611. Thursday, May 29, 7pm.