Five years ago, Randy and his friends started building a 4 foot by 4 foot garden behind his apartment building. When construction began, neighborhood kids came out and started helping, and all of a sudden the entire community was involved in his modest garden project. “I thought it was some sort of miracle,” he says. “It was like a once in a lifetime happening, but as it turns out, every time you build a garden the same thing happens again.” And so the idea for 5 Mile Farms took root.
Two years ago Randy started a pilot project with 3 yard farms to see how he could bring farming into the community through backyard farm space, and in May of last year 5 Mile Farms was officially launched. The team constructs gardens in homeowners’ yards to be used as land for the CSA program, and now 16 yard sites are in full operation.
“The heart of what 5 Mile Farms is about is not about running a CSA,” Randy notes. “If we wanted to run a CSA we would just move outside of town and build a big farm. What we are trying to do is really a community building project. It is about relationships between people.”
The business model can be broken down into three parts:
- Picking up produce, just like a traditional CSA program.
- Education. This includes workshop series and volunteer opportunities. Topics range from gardening and landscaping to pickling and butchery.
- Eating together. 5 Mile Farms’ “Farm Feast” is open to the public and incorporates educational discussions with a dining experience that makes people engage on a deeper level than the comparably isolated experience of eating at a restaurant.“Because people are helping and doing all these things–making things and growing food and exchanging money and produce, you’re building this little community of people,” Randy explains. “We’re building something that’s too real to fail.”
Winter 2012 Austin Food Warrior
This post is from one of the interns in the Real Time Farms Food Warrior Internship Program. These interns are collecting data, pictures, and video on the growing practices of our nation’s farms, gathering food artisans’ stories, and documenting farmers markets. We all deserve to know where our food comes from!