Protecting Farmland at Green Gate Farms

Green Gate Farm is a historic farm in east Austin fighting for farmland protection and healthy food systems. The farm was originally owned by the Bergstrom family, the same family that the airport is named after. They have been operating since the early 1900s and continue to supply Austin with fresh and healthy food. The farm is part of an area called an Agrihood, which is a way of living in which a farm supplies the community with food and is a center for volunteering and community events. This is such a great method of development and allows for both farmers and community members to mutually benefit. It’s the first time I have been exposed firsthand to this kind of thoughtful and

Picture of the farm and the historic barn

intentional community-based living. The farm exists to supply the community, and the community is able to support the farm. 

Day-to-day work on the farm starts with fieldwork, helping wherever we are needed. It is very pleasant to work with crops and I am learning a lot about how a farm runs. After the fieldwork, we help the farm owners with getting the word out to Austinites about ways to support local farmers and how important they are to sustainability. This includes examining farmland policy and compiling information that already exists. This kind of direct communication is imperative to the success of both the farm, the sustainability efforts, and the health

some tomato plants we repotted, in the greenhouse

In France was so fresh, and came directly from the community in which I was living. There is something powerful about growing, eating, and feeding the community from soil that exists in the same place you live. At the grocery stores in Austin, so much of the produce is brought in; flown or shipped, from other countries or states. I find this internship to connect many of the focus areas I’ve studied and experienced.

Another view of the farm where you can see some of the development in the background



In class, we often talk about how developers are doing damage and attacking green spaces but experiencing it in real-time is much different. Every day as we work on the farm, there is construction happening virtually all around the farm’s perimeter, with the developer constantly attempting to get more of the farmland. This experience has shown me how hard it is to fight development as a small business or farmer against a wealthy development company, especially with the way the law works in Texas. This is where the policy work I am doing comes into play. I am searching for any policy that could protect the farm permanently as well as the proposed policy that we can support. There is very little farmland protection policy in Texas and most of it that does exist is aimed at protecting large, corporation-run farms.

Another aspect of the internship is fighting aggregate mining in Bastrop, where their other farm is located. Huge amounts of aggregate are taken out of the ground and taken to Austin for development, destroying the land for farming and ranching, and with no regard to the environmental impacts of the mining. This is a very important area of sustainability for Austin because it is destroying the land that is needed to produce food for the city. For this project, we are creating an organization to bring the community together, inform the public and create policies to protect the land and environment from the developers. 

Overall, I really enjoy this experience and the opportunity to fight for farmers and protect land that is so important to the further development of Austin.


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