FARM ROVER, Mobile Farm Center
New Farm Institute’s “Farm Rover,” is a mobile farm center that provides shelter, shade and storage for farm workers, particularly those working in flood plains and rural areas.
WHAT: New Farm Institute’s “Farm Rover,” is a mobile farm center that provides shelter, shade and storage for farm workers, particularly those working in flood plains and rural areas.
Low cost to build/maintain/clean
Provide shelter, tool storage for up to 8 farmer workers
Composting toilet and hand washing
Shade areas for rest, dining
WHO: The Farm Rover is the result of a collaboration among five
City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability
Center for Sustainable Development at the University of Texas School of Architecture
UT’s School of Architecture’s Public Interest Design Program
Multicultural Refugee Coalition
Green Gate Farms’ New Farm Institute
HOW: Under the guidance of Professor Coleman Coker, 16 UT graduate students designed the Farm Rover with input from all partners. Green Gate Farms’ New Farm Institute has donated materials to help facilitate the build.
WHY: Farmers rarely have adequate shelter when working in the fields. The Farm Rover has been designed to promote urban agriculture in floodplains and inspire sustainable farmers everywhere to create low-cost rest stations.
WHERE: Currently located here at Green Gate Farms, 8310 Canoga Avenue, Austin, 78724
WHEN: Development, design and construction occurred over the course of 10-weeks from July- August. Unveiling: Tuesday, August 11, at 6:00 pm. Everyone is invited to celebrate the joint efforts of this project!
About: Small sustainable farmers share fundamental challenges when it comes to their working conditions. New farmers, in particular, tend to rank their personal needs last. That’s because after securing affordable land – typically found in remote, rural areas or flood prone urban areas — farmers must pay for such expensive equipment as tractors, wells, irrigation, tools, processing shed, and refrigeration. After these essentials, few resources remain for a farmer’s basic comfort.
As a community-based organic farm, Green Gate Farms is all too familiar with this situation. The farms’ founders have cobbled together a farm stand, outhouse and shaded areas by repurposing found materials — pallets, scrap tin, and leftover banners from SouthbySouthwest events. “We’ve created innovative spaces but the resulting structures barely meet the needs of staff, volunteers and visitors,” says farm and New Farm Institute co-founder Erin Flynn. “Our Volunteer Program has become so popular that we’ve outgrown our infrastructure.”
This is especially frustrating as Green Gate’s New Farm Institute expands its partnership with Multicultural Refugee Coalition. For the past year, refugees from around the world have participated in the farm’s workshare training program. “There’s a waiting list to join this program,” says MRC Executive Director Meg Erskine “Ultimately, we hope to train and set aside land for immigrant farmers who want to sell their produce, says farm and New Farm Institute cofounder Skip Connett, “Our goal with the Farm Rover is to create a system that can be replicated by farmers across the country.”
Green Gate Farms’ New Farm Institute Volunteer Program
During the past eight years, Green Gate Farms’ volunteer program — funded almost entirely by the farm founders — has grown so popular that New Farm Institute (NFI), its farm-based education nonprofit, was created to accommodate training and field trip requests from individuals (300+ annually), groups, parents and schools. NFI’s Volunteer Program also gives underserved groups and others with little/no farming experience the rare opportunity to learn from professional
NFI volunteers can participate in as many as 20 diverse enterprises (e.g., community supported agriculture (CSA), livestock management, canning, growing edible flowers, etc) on Green Gate Farms, and on other family farms in Central Texas. Volunteer activities range from helping harvest and press olives from a new orchard in Travis County to gathering edible flowers for weekly flower bouquet subscriptions to feeding food waste to endangered livestock.
New Farm Institute’s (NFI) mission is to educate, assist and inspire a new generation of sustainable farmers in Central Texas. NFI’s initiatives build upon the education and outreach efforts begun by the founders of Green Gate Farms, a community-based, certified organic vegetable, flower, and livestock farm with locations in Austin and Bastrop, Texas.
Note: Arizona-based Roberts Resorts recently purchased the 250-acre property on Decker Lane that encompasses Green Gate Farms. Formerly known as Hidden Valley, Roberts has renamed the property “Loma Vista.” Green Gate Farms has operated a community farm at this location for ten years. Roberts has recently provided a one-year lease to Green Gate Farms so it can continue its educational mission at this site.