From Paddock to Plate: Farm to Home Delivery in Austin
Arriving at a holiday rental is a bit like checking into a hotel room… you snoop around the place, pull back the curtains, bounce on the bed, open cupboards and drawers, and you look in the fridge.
Sometimes you’re disappointed, at other times you discover all kinds of fun surprises as you might do at a five star hotel. And then you find things that you’ll never see in a hotel room, such as the extraordinary pantry crammed with local produce that we had at Rusty Irons‘ place, our first Austin ‘home’.
At our second ‘home’ in Austin, we had a colossal cold bottle of locally brewed boutique beer awaiting us, but we also had another treat in store for us… a bin of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door by a very friendly local.
Each week the bushel changes depending upon what’s in season, but ours (pictured) included tomatoes, cucumbers, Chinese long beans, heirloom eggplant, okra, and basil from Tecolote Farm; heirloom lettuce from Bluebonnet Farms; sweet corn from J&B Farm; summer squash from Texas Natural; butternut squash from Montesino Farm; Italian peppers and figs from Oasis Gardens; and peaches from Texas Hill Country.
Farmhouse Delivery not only identifies exactly where everything comes from, but they also provide helpful tips as to what you can do with the produce and how you should keep it, handy if it’s not something you’re familiar with. For the figs, for example, they write: “sweetly exotic, eat as is, or slice in half and serve with torn basil, chevre, and balsamic vinegar; also good for cakes, pies, tarts, and preserves. Store in refrigerator.” Impressive!
Not only that, but if you’re staying in a holiday rental where your owner is signed up to Farmhouse Delivery, you also get to participate in all the activities they run, including farm to table dinners, pig roasts, happy hours, farm tours, cooking and gardening classes, book readings, and (being Austin) live music, all hosted at Lily Farm. Which is also a fantastic way to meet locals.
As we’re big fans of farm-to-table cuisine (you might have read our story on Venissa restaurant in Venice) and we’re on a quest this year to promote local travel and slow and sustainable travel, we decided to have a chat to Elizabeth Winslow, one of the owners of Farmhouse Delivery.
Q. Why did you start Farmhouse Delivery?
A. Stephanie and I wanted to find a way to bring the produce Stephanie was growing to families in Austin, but her farm is quite small, so we decided to supplement it with produce from other local farms to offer variety and to make the business sustainable. We were really interested in connecting families in our community with delicious food from local farms.
Q. Convenience aside, what’s the advantage of ordering fruit and veg this way?
A. Knowing where your food comes from, supporting local family farms, and connecting with a community to share recipes, cooking ideas and inspiration.
Q. Aside from using a service like yours, how can visitors to Austin shop sustainably?
A. Head to Austin’s Farmers Markets – they’re great! There are several on Saturdays around town, as well as one on Wednesday evenings at the Triangle. On Saturdays, I really enjoy the Saturday downtown market at Republic Square. It’s a great gathering place – wonderful for people watching as much as shopping for delicious local foods!
Q. In Europe and Asia, it’s always been about buying and eating seasonal local produce, but in the USA, UK and Australia it’s really a recent trend.
A. I think corporate food companies lured us away from local, seasonal foods with convenience/processed foods. I think we all woke up and realized so much of the food we were eating was tasteless and unhealthy. It’s really exciting to rediscover the joys of delicious, seasonal, regional foods, both in restaurants and at home.
Q. There’s also been a huge trend around the world toward ‘Paddock to Plate’ or ‘Farm to Table’ cuisine. Is Austin hooked too?
A. Yes! The Odd Duck trailer is great — the chef is opening a restaurant soon and the trailer will stay open, so hopefully there will be much more of his delicious food soon. Wink is a really high-end place that serves almost all local food. Texas French Bread does delicious market-driven bistro food. The Edible Austin website does a great job identifying restaurants that use local products to a significant degree.