About a month ago I saw a post or link via Merriwether’s blog or Facebook feed regarding something called Farm Fest held at the Last Organic Outpost urban farm near downtown Houston. Ever since, I kept an eye out for it in hopes that I would be able to go. Timing worked out and I was able to go on my way home from Beaumont where I’d been visiting Chris over the weekend. (Merriwether was also there and I talked to him for a few minutes, learning about beautyberry jelly and the uses of the horrible invasive Chinese tallow.)
I was a little nervous when I exited the highway and turned into the neighborhood the farm is located. It is not in a good part of town. I turned down the side street and decided if it looked too sketchy I’d turn around and just go home. When I pulled up to the road the farm was on I found it lined with cars and a couple of cops down at the end to keep the peace. I felt better and decided to go and check out the scene.
There are times I feel like a liberal, hippie chick and then there are times I realize that I am far from as liberal and hippie as you can get. This was one of those times. That said, there were some decidedly non-crunchy people there too, but by far the populace were very granola. Very.. But it was good stuff, stuff I would love to see a little bit more of….it is like a small portion of what Seattle is.
The entry fee to the festival was pay-what-you-can so I tossed several dollars their way after signing in. Several vendors were set up near the front of the farm with others spread throughout the garden and a couple of food trucks out towards the back. I wanted to eat lunch at the food trucks but they didn’t have a good vegetarian fare selection, which was surprising for the crowd.
The garden itself was looking pretty good with a lot of the fall crops having just been started and in their seedling phase still. One thing that I wish the festival would have had is a tour of the garden with folks explaining how the garden/farm worked, what was growing etc. Maybe they had it later in the day (it also rained later that afternoon) but nothing was going on while I was there.
As for the vendors I bought a lovely fruit and tea drink from a vendor whose name I can’t remember the name, a beautiful owl imprinted, clay tile necklace, and a cloth purse from a wonderful artisan whose name I do have but don’t have handy, and several vegetable plants from the Gunters. Initially I was concerned there weren’t going to be any plants for sale at, of all places a farm, but there were plants! I’d seen their veggies before at another nursery in town so it was really nice to actually talk to them in person. They were super nice and informative too! I listened as they explained things to other customers and I asked my own questions and talked over various plant and gardening items. In the end I bought olive leaf broccoli (used for leaves not, not the flowers), African blue basil (apparently a great bee attractor), red veined sorrel, and I think it was michilli cabbage (will have to double check the tag).
All in all the Farm Fest was fun. If I lived closer I would probably volunteer on occasion down at the farm. Unfortunately it is well out of my way but if I am ever in the area I would love to drop by and check it out again.
As a side trip afterwards I stopped at Buchanan’s Native Plants after finding them listed on the silent auction table for a gift certificate. I wrote the address down and drove over after. The nursery is small, but packed full of plants, and tucked away in a rejuvenated neighborhood on the north side of Houston, just inside the 610 loop. It was quite busy while I was there, too. I wandered around for a bit with nothing particular on my mind other than white beautyberry, but I only came out with a Passiflora ‘incense’ that was on the clearance section. I went back twice to look at it because in all honesty, I’m not sure if I can revive it. The leaves were yellowing, though some were still a nice shade of green, but it was struggling. But for $5 I thought it was worth trying. I repotted it and gave it some fish emulsion and will hope for the best!
It was a nice day, being outside. Then it rained that afternoon and I got a nap in before I went back outside to do some yard work before night fell.