Three years ago, Nathan Heath and his family broke ground on a 10-acre, sustainable agribusiness called Phoenix Farms. Today, the Bastrop family farm is one of the few local farm-to-table resources in the Austin culinary scene. Heath is hoping to change that.
"For the local food movement to grow, we need more Central Texas farmers. A lot of people say, 'We need more customers,' but I see it the opposite way. We sell out at the farmers' markets every week, and chefs only have access to a few local resources," Heath says.
"What we don't have enough of is farmers, and I'm worried if we don't do something about that there might not be a next generation of farmers. My goal is to help build a community of farmers and home growers so we don't miss out on that next generation."
Last Sunday, foodies, farmers and chefs alike gathered at Olive & June to help Phoenix Farms launch a Kickstarter campaign that would allow Heath to build a teaching center and commercial kitchen on his farm property.
The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Marla Camp of Edible Austin, as well as panelist speakers Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due; Shawn Cirkiel of Olive & June; Valerie Broussard of Trace; Bryce Gilmore and Sam Hellman-Mass of Barley Swine; and Heath.
Through the farm center, Heath plans to teach new and novice farmers and home growers all the ins and outs of farming. Thus far, the campaign has raised a little over $3,000 of its overall $15,000 goal.
"I want to use the teaching center and commercial kitchen to provide the resources that these young farmers need," Heath says. "We can teach people how to grow seasonal food, can and preserve, dry herbs, care for chickens – you name it."
The chance to contribute to Phoenix Farms' Kickstarter campaign ends May 9. For more information on the campaign or to donate to the cause, visit Phoenix Farms' Kickstarter page.