New beginnings

Popular East Austin urban farm and restaurant preserved in Springdale mixed-use development

East Austin farm and restaurant preserved in Springdale development

Sonya Cote Eden East at Springdale Farms in Austin 4133
Springdale Farm's land will eventually be turned into a mixed-use development. Photo by Veronica Meewes
Sonya Cote
Chef Sonya Coté has a new gig as a farmer. Photo courtesy of Eden East
Sonya Cote Eden East at Springdale Farms in Austin 4133
Sonya Cote

On January 31, Springdale Farm owners Paula Foore and Glenn Foore shocked locals with the news they had sold their beloved east side institution. At the time, it seemed to be the end of an era for the aging urban farm movement and Eden East, chef Sonya Coté’s al fresco onsite restaurant.

While a mixed-use development will eventually come to the tract of land at 755 Springdale Rd., the farm and Eden East will live on — at least for the immediate future.

Coté exclusively told CultureMap that she is digging in deep to help preserve the historic land, starting with getting out her own shovel. While the Austin-based PSW Real Estate solidifies plans for the development, Coté has signed a commercial lease for the property, allowing her team to continue to work the land, run the popular farm stand, and host special events.

“We are looking to partner with some chefs in town that are interested in doing a chef's garden with us,” said Coté, who has been in discussions with Max Elliott, the executive director of Urban Roots, a local nonprofit that teaches young people how to farm. “We are hoping to develop some programs for the kids that are going to be going to [the nearby Allan Elementary School] next year,” she said.

Although Coté ran a 1-acre micro-farm before moving to Austin, this will be her first time working on such a large scale. To help with the process, Coté is seeking advice from neighboring urban farmers like Boggy Creek’s Carol Ann Sayle, Rain Lily’s Stephanie Scherzer, and HausBar’s Dorsey Barger. “Basically, we asked, ‘do you think we’re crazy,' and they were like, ‘yes, you’re crazy.’ But Glenn is not going away, he’s going to help us,” she said.

Coté says she is working to ensure that some version of the farm can continue to operate once construction of the development gets underway. “What I am working with PSW to do is to scale it down so that we will always continue to have this farmland, and they are going to build us a brick-and-mortar,” she said.

“What this ground is zoned for is a huge 200,000-square-foot apartment complex that nobody wants in this neighborhood,” she continued. “What we need is the green space. We want to preserve these heritage trees. What [PSW] is proposing — if the neighborhood allows us to do this — is a work-live creative space. They were talking about a nonprofit theater. They have also been hosting a lot of meetings in the neighborhood to see what people want.”

In the meantime, Eden East will continue to offer brunch on Wednesday and Saturday while the farm stand is open, a prix fixe supper club on Friday and Saturday evenings, and a la carte night on Thursday with live music and complimentary Deep Eddy cocktails — all featuring vegetables grown right onsite.