Submitted By Michael A. Smith, Marketing Manager
When farmer Brenton Johnson first started out, his “farm” was literally his backyard in Austin, TX. In less than three years, he expanded out of his backyard and grew to serve over 1,000 neighbors through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Today, Brenton and his family grow fresh vegetables on 200 acres aptly named Johnson’s Backyard Garden. About five miles outside of Austin, they supply their CSA members, some of the area’s finest restaurants, and Bon Appétit at St. Edward’s University as part of our Farm to Fork program. His story is an inspiration for beginning farmers, and a textbook case of how a community can come together and help a family farm succeed.
Students at St. Edward’s were recently treated to “one of the best farm trips ever” to Johnson’s Backyard Garden. It was a hands-on, highly interactive trip. Students walked through the fields, picked fresh produce, and were excited by how “fresh everything looked and tasted, ” one said. They also learned about planting schedules and took an “awesome tractor ride.” Students were moved by the story of how Johnson’s Backyard Garden started out as a hobby in a city-sized backyard in East Austin and has become a fixture of the community and one of the most important local suppliers of fresh, organic produce.
The St. Edward’s kitchen in particular has come to depend on the farm. “All the chefs look forward to the weekly available produce list given to us by JBG,” says Executive Chef Elvin Lubrin. “This list inspires us to create new, fresh, and exciting creations that the St. Edward’s community has grown to expect and love.”