One of Austin’s longest-running organic farms is taking a ‘breather’

After 25 years, Tecolote Farm is taking a break.

David and Katie Pitre have owned Tecolote Farm since 1993. They announced last week that they were pausing their community-supported agriculture program, which is the longest-running CSA in Texas. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In the mid-1990s, when Katie and David Pitre planted their first crops at their land just east of Austin, no one had heard of a community-supported agriculture program or an email newsletter or a locavore, but that didn’t stop them from starting what is likely the longest-running CSA in the state of Texas.

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The CSA officially started in 1994, and despite all the ups and downs that come with running a farm, the Pitres have kept the CSA going, even as more farms, farmers markets and CSAs opened in the area.

Boggy Creek Farm, considered one of the earliest urban farms in the country, opened in 1992 and still operates with several farmstands a week. Hairston Creek opened near Burnet in 1990 and got its organic certification in 1993. In 2006, Green Gate Farm opened its organic farm on the other side of what is now the SH 130 toll road.

But this year, they are taking a “semi-sabbatical” to take a “breather,” and that includes stopping the produce delivery program. “We won’t be doing our CSA this year, so production will be lessened,” they wrote. “Our kitchen garden will be a farmer’s version of one, so we will definitely have surpluses from time to time in the next year ahead, and will show up at market at those times. We are excited for this opportunity to reassess the farm’s direction. We are not retiring, simply looking at how best to shape Tecolote moving forward.”

David Pitre examines herbs and other young plants in his farm’s greenhouse. KATIE URBASZEWSKI/WESTLAKE PICAYUNE

This news comes just a few weeks after Springdale Farm announced that it had sold to developers and would close at the end of summer to make way for some new buildings on the property that is now used to grow food for the farmstand.

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Here are a few more details from the Tecolote newsletter:

Keeping 20 to 30 crops growing sufficiently well at any given time so as to ensure diversity, plan for abundance, as well as anticipate loss (bugs, weather, pestilence, disease) is an amazing feat here in Central Texas. Don’t mind if we do admit that we do it pretty well. We will continue growing this year on a much smaller scale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear that we’ll be at a farmers market here and there via our email newsletter, or that we’re supplying a local restaurant with some of our surplus produce. However, the CSA and large scale market production is definitely on hold for 2018, and we will let our future plans be known after we scale back, step back, and assess our plans, hopes, and dreams for the next 25 years.

We appreciate y’all so very much. We will miss seeing you every Saturday in 2018:  it’s what we’ve been doing since we were as old as our son Zachary is now! However, there is much work to do on the farm that gets neglected when we’re busy 24/7. Our fall/winter “off-season” has been shrinking every year, as our wholesale and restaurant business has grown, and the projects are piling up. We will be playing catch up on those projects, taking on some odd jobs (David’s already lining up work doing electrical wiring and mechanical repairs), and venturing into other sustainable farm projects. You have fed us with your loyalty and support, and we will miss feeding you in 2018. Thank you for your understanding, and please stay connected with our other farm endeavors in the meantime. Please keep your Tecolote loyalty intact until further notice! We hope to host some celebrations this year on the occasion of the farm’s Quarter Century Anniversary.


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