Read below for upcoming community garden events.

Grow Together has available plots for those who are interested. Water cost is taken care of. We have available wicking raised beds, regular raised beds, and in the ground beds. For more details you can email or go to our contact page and leave your plot request at


5/18/15 Panel Discussion: Administrative Best Practices & Volunteer Management at Community Gardens

Join us for this month’s Coalition of Austin Community Gardens meeting Monday, May 18!

This month’s panel discussion topic is Administrative Best Practices & Volunteer Management at Community Gardens.

A community garden is basically a small, volunteer-run organization, and it takes management for a community garden to thrive. Learn from experienced community gardeners and professional volunteer managers about what records are essential to keep and strategies for keeping them; effective tools for communication; and how to motivate and organize volunteers at your community garden. Panelists include: Alexandra Castañeda, Festival Beach CG, Sabrina Joplin, Adelphi Acre CG; Mark Thomasson, Clarksville CG; Paula Arciniega, SFC Volunteer Coordinator; and Rebecca Saltsman, Keep Austin Beautiful Community Programs Manager.

Facebook invitation:

When: May 18, 6:30pm-8pm

Where: Sustainable Food Center, 2921 E. 17th St., Bldg. C, 78702 (at MLK and Alexander)

Directions & Parking Instructions: SFC is located near the MLK MetroRail stop at Alexander St. and E. MLK Blvd. Heading east on MLK, take a right at the flashing yellow light at Alexander. You’ll pass the MetroRail station and will see People Fund up ahead. SFC’s building is directly behind People Fund. There is plenty of free parking around the SFC building.

Notes from Managing Pests & Invasives Panel Discussion 4/20/15 at Sustainable Food Center

Panelists: Ila Falvey, Sunshine Community Garden, Dwight Littleton, It’s About Thyme, Zach Herigodt, Yard Farm, Kellyn Smith, Travis County Master Gardeners Association.

Moderated by Meredith Gray, City of Austin Sustainable Urban Agriculture & Community Garden Program

  1. What can you recommend for controlling Bermuda grass at community gardens?

Ila: It’s very hard to manage. It grows in sunny spots.  You don’t want it in your garden or paths. It can take over if left alone. The only way to get it out is to dig it up. Tilling is a bad idea because it can break it up and cause even more growth. You can also take 5-6 sheets of newspaper, wet it down, and put it on top of the Bermuda grass. This won’t kill it, but it slows it down. Once dug up, its okay to go in a compost pile if it will heat up hot enough to destroy it.

Kellyn: Creating barriers (for example, cardboard) helps and landscape fabric can help but once it breaks through, you have to replace the fabric.

Dwight: You just have to dig it out. Take a cheap steak knife and dig down about 4” to uproot it completely. Vinegar can scorch and halt growth, but it will also scorch everything else growing, so it’s best to dig it up.

Zach: Commercial grade landscape fabric, unavailable in big box stores, is effective. It’s spun fabric, not woven. Fabric is okay to use in pathways, but it should also be covered with at least 3” of another material (mulch, granite, etc.) Stay on top of pulling it up. Late March/April is when it becomes active, so the best time to sheet mulch is then. It’s dormant in the Fall, so that’s not a good time to mulch over it.

Solarization may also be effective: this is when you take a large sheet of plastic (used or new) and spread it over a patch of Bermuda grass and seal it from air getting in. If you do this in the May/June timeframe, it will get hot enough to cook and kill the grass.

There’s an organic systemic herbicide that has recently become available as well (systemic means it gets into the plant’s “veins” and kills it from the inside), but it is still expensive and difficult to find. It’s also broad spectrum, so it will kill everything growing around it.

Ila: Solarization is hard to do effectively because it kills microorganisms in the soil and is problematic if it rains.

Kellyn: In her experience, solarization attracts fire ants and doesn’t kill Bermuda grass, but does kill other weeds.

Zach: Bottom line is that there is no magic bullet, and you need to try several different strategies to control Bermuda grass.

  1. What do you do about fire ants?

Kellyn: Molasses! It adds microbes to the soil and chases the ants off. Spinosad is also a natural deterrent. Whatever you use, you should apply at least a week before you plan to work the soil.

Dwight: There’s a new product by Fertilome called “Come and get it” which ants will take to the nest and it will kill them (rather than just displacing them.) It’s very effective but not very affordable. You can also dig up the ants and remove them on your own.

Kellyn: Pouring hot water in the mound is effective if you dig down a bit first so that you’ll be sure to hit the queen.

Zach: Orange oil is cheap and effective.

Kellyn: Molasses is even cheaper.

Dwight and Kellyn: Beneficial nematodes also work. But note that the soil must be kept moist or they will die. These should also be applied in the evening/night.

Zach: Boric acid and diatomaceous earth also work. If you dust the mound with these products, the ants will dissipate.

Kellyn: But those products will kill beneficial bugs as well. If you use molasses, it should be sprayed over ALL of the soil even if it’s not infested. It can also be sprayed on plants.

(Question from audience: how do you find the center of the ant mound?)
Kellyn: Start digging and pay attention to where you see most of the ants coming from. That’s where the queen will be. Walk away for a while, then come back with hot water or other method to take them out.


  1. What tips do you have for controlling poison ivy?

Dwight: Dig it up! Don’t wash whatever you are wearing when you dig it up. Just throw it out, or it will spread the oils to your other clothing. Also don’t burn the poison ivy!

Kellyn: Use an old bread bag or some other plastic bag over your hands/arms when you are digging it up, and throw them out when you’re done.

Zach: Poison ivy only grows in the shade. You have to dig it up. The best way to treat rashes on your skin is to use dish soap on it several times a day, that will dry it out. Definitely take care of poison ivy before it gets too hot outside, because your sweat will break the barrier of protection. The best way to get rid of poison ivy in my experience is with machinery.

Meredith (and audience): Deer, chickens, and goats will also eat it.  You can cut off the leafy parts and go back a few days later to apply citrus oil to kill the rest.


  1. Experiences with pests during different planting seasons?

Kellyn: A lot of snails during rainy seasons, but pests usually go with the plants (cabbage worms during cabbage season, for example.)

Dwight: Spring is when the harlequin bugs come out. Pull up cabbage-family plants to get rid of them.

Kellyn: Stink bugs are important to treat at first sight. Copper fungicide can kill them if they’re still small. So will insecticidal soap and Spinosad.

Zach: Stink bugs are getting worse every year. My favorite way to treat is a homemade spray with crushed mint, garlic, and pepper.  Also, artichokes are a great trap crop for stink bugs. They love artichokes. So do snails.

Ladybugs are good bugs and you can tell them apart from similar bad bugs (cucumber beetles) because they are round and don’t have a pinched body. is a good place to go to identify bugs

Snails are easy to trap with beer. Kellyn recommends putting some in a large yogurt container. Be sure to kill them/empty daily. The round shell snails are bad, but the conch/swirl shelled snails are okay.  Generally, if you see both, you should get rid of all of them.

Kellyn: The best way to prevent squash vine borers is to bury a barrier about 1/2″ down around the plant base when the plant is small. A plastic or cardboard cylinder will work.

Ila: Squash vine borers are almost inevitable. Successive plantings can help you to get a lot of squash before it’s all killed by vine borers. One variety of squash that tolerates them well is zuchetta. It grows rampantly and is always putting down new roots, so it will continue to grow. It also takes up a lot of space.

Kellyn: Row covers also work. If you make it to hot weather (June/July) without the vine borers, they typically won’t be an issue. They hate the heat.

Zach: The most important thing to remember when treating pests is to treat the right pest. A great resource to help is the Travis County Master Gardener hotline. They are quick to respond, and they are funded based on how much work they get, so use them! They can be reached at 512.854.9600 (ask for the Master Gardener Desk). For more information about the Travis County Master Gardeners, visit :

  1. Any other preventatives to mention?

Zach: Diversity and sanitation are important. Plant diverse plants to invite beneficials. Stay away from mono-cropping. Grow as much flowering material as possible and get a good food chain going.  Parsley, dill, and cilantro are great once they flower/go to seed, so let them go.

Kellyn: Build a bug hotel. Consider companion planting, which only really works when you have a lot of both companion plants. Sometimes it’s good to let another plant become a “sacrificial lamb” and become the haven for pests. Be careful when using (organic) pesticides, because they kill beneficials too.

Lemon balm, lemon grass, marigolds, and any citrus-smelling plants are helpful to deter pests. If you are using these around your other plants, one won’t do, you need to box the plant in to completely eradicate. This is usually impractical, but planting some deterrents will definitely help.

Dwight: The best defense is healthy plants. Pick tomatoes as soon as they start to blush.

Ila: Khakiweed is another weed that is almost worse than bermuda grass, get rid of it too!

2015 Panel Discussion Series

Starting April 20th, we’ll dive into the 2015 series of panel discussions about topics of interest to community gardeners. Speakers on each panel will include longtime community gardeners and community experts on the topic to be discussed. If you’re knowledgeable about any of the topics listed and would like to serve as  a speaker, please contact sariATsustainablefoodcenterDOTorg.

All panel discussions will take place 6:30-8pm (during the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens meeting time) at Sustainable Food Center, 2921 E. 17th St., Bldg. C, 78702 (at MLK and Alexander).

Directions & Parking Instructions: SFC is located near the MLK MetroRail stop at Alexander St. and E. MLK Blvd. Heading east on MLK, take a right at the flashing yellow light at Alexander. You’ll pass the MetroRail station and will see People Fund up ahead. SFC’s building is directly behind People Fund. There is plenty of free parking around the SFC building.



April 20, 2015
Managing Pests & Invasives at Community Gardens, Facebook Event
May 18, 2015
Administrative Best Practices and Volunteer Management at Community Gardens
September 21, 2015 Fundraising, Grant Writing, and Accepting Donations and Services for Community Gardens, Facebook Event
November 16, 2015
Children at the Community Garden

Free Hugelkultur Workshop Sat 2/16 12n-2pm

If you’ve noticed Wintertime on the wane and are hankering to get your hands in the earth again, come on and join friends of Blackshear Neighborhood Garden at the


During the 2 hour workshop with experienced hugelkulturist and urban homesteader Matt Hollon you will:
-Understand the methods of water-conscious hugelkulture bed construction.
-Install a hugelkulture bed from start to finish at the 9th Street Schoolhouse in east Austin.Date: Saturday, February 16
Time: 12 noon – 2pm
Location: 2006 E. 9th St.
Cost: FREE
Wear sturdy shoes, gardening clothes, and bring a shovel if you have one.

CHILDCARE PROVIDED by GrowinTogether after school program!
Coffee, tea, and snacks provided for your refreshment!

Sign up by RSVP’ing to the facebook event page or email
Hope you can join us!


Blackshear Garden Potluck & Party Sunday 6/17

You’re invited to join the Blackshear Gardeners and Neighbors for our quarterly potluck and party!

This Sunday 6/17

6pm potluck

8pm live music by The Cans and My Neighbor Nancy


What to Bring:

a dish and/or drinks to share

your own place setting

a chair if you’d like

Click here for the facebook event page.

We hope you can come out to meet neighbors, enjoy the garden, and check out our projects: rainwater collection, sustainable building techniques, chickens, shared garden rows, and compost.

Email caitlin.macklin[at] with questions.

3rd Annual Austin Community Gardening Tour

Join us for the 3rd Annual Austin Community Gardening Tour on Saturday, April 28th, from 12 – 4pm.  This free, friendly-to-all-ages, open-house style tour provides the opportunity to visit an inspiring array of gardens throughout the Austin area where participants are growing food and growing community together. Get on your bike, in your car, or on your feet and check out this showcase of urban food-growing strategies! Enjoy instructional talks, celebrations, kids’ activities, and the opportunity to get your hands dirty by helping at a work day along the way.

The tour is followed by a Celebration of Community Gardening at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard, 1106 E. 11th St., from 6 – 9 pm.  Enjoy local food at a p•tl♣ck picnic and learn what’s been going on in the world of community gardens over the past year from the City and Coalition representatives. Then dance to infectious beats from The Flyin’ A’s under the light of a moontower.

Click here to read more…

Community Garden Leadership Trainings w/SFC

Creating a community garden with your neighbors is an enormously gratifying and empowering experience.  If you are interested in starting your own community garden, keep an eye out for the next Community Garden Leadership Training offered by Sustainable Food Center (SFC). These trainings cover the basics of organizing your community, selecting a site, designing your garden, garnering resources for your garden, and more, and are offered twice a year, in the winter and early summer.

Keep an eye on Sustainable Food Center’s Events page to find out when the next training is scheduled.

2nd Annual Austin Community Garden Tour

communitygardentour_fb_bannerPlease join the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens, Sustainable Food Center

and the Congress for New Urbanism in celebrating the growing number of community gardens in our city at the Second Annual Austin Community Garden Tour, to take place Sunday, May 1st from 10am – 4pm. The Community Garden Tour is a free, open house-style tour providing the opportunity to visit each of these unique places, talk to the gardeners there, learn how to get involved, and maybe even get inspired to start your own.  We hope you’ll join us in celebration of these community spaces for locally grown (and self-grown!) food in Austin. A downloadable/printable map of participating community gardens and additional details are available on the Tour page.

We’ll close out the tour with Community Gardening in Austin: A Panel Discussion and Local Food Potluck from 6 – 8:30 pm at 5604 Manor (home of the Workers Defense Project, the Third Coast Workers for Cooperation, and Third Coast Activist Resource Center).  Speakers will share information about the current landscape of community gardening in Austin, the work they are doing to make Austin a more community garden-friendly city, and what you can do to get involved. Bring a dish made with locally grown food, as well as your own reusable plate and utensils, and join in the celebration! Space is limited, so if you’d like to attend the Panel and Potluck, please click here to RSVP via Facebook. You can also RSVP for the Austin Community Garden Tour here via Facebook.  If you are not a member of Facebook RSVP for the events here.

Click here for more information…

Act NOW – Tell the City of Austin to Support Community Gardens

After more than 2 years of advocacy work by the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens and Sustainable Food Center, the City of Austin is about to make it easier for community gardens to proliferate and thrive in this city–let’s show them we support this move!

The City will hire a Conservation Program Coordinator (and Administrative Assistant) who will be responsible for making it easier to start community gardens on City land in Austin, and who will work to improve the sustainability and strength of our local food system. Let’s let City staff and Council Members know that we strongly support the creation of the Conservation Program Coordinator and Administrative Assistant positions, and we’d like to see them filled as soon as possible.

City Council will also vote THIS THURSDAY, February 10th on whether to pass ordinances to substantially improve the way the City manages community gardens and to make it easier and more affordable for community gardens on City and private land to install water infrastructure at their gardens. Let’s let our Council Members know how important it is to us that they pass this amendment!

**Please Note**: We encourage folks to attend the Council meeting on Thursday the 10th. Please understand that these items are currently on the consent agenda, meaning they are on the fast track to being approved at the meeting.  If two or more individuals sign up to speak on a consent agenda item, the item gets pulled from the consent agenda and goes into the general meeting. This means items will be up for general discussion along with a list of many others, and items could get pushed off of Thursday’s agenda if discussions on previous items run long. Thanks for your support!

***Sample text for email***,,,,,,,,,

Subject: Support Community Gardens

To City Council Members and Staff,

Community gardens are essential components of a vibrant, healthy, and sustainable city. I strongly support the hiring of a full-time Conservation Program Coordinator and part-time administrative assistant to support the proliferation and sustainability of community gardens and other urban agriculture in Austin. I also wholeheartedly support the passing of the City Council ordinances relating to community gardening and other urban agriculture that are on the Council agenda for review Thursday, February 10th. Thank you for all that City Council and staff has done in support of community gardens in Austin leading up to now!

MLK Jr. Community Gardens Open House & Community Discussion

Sustainable Food Center is creating its headquarters, which will include a new program center and community and teaching gardens, at the MLK MetroRail Station near MLK and Airport Blvd. The MLK Jr. Community Garden will truly belong to the community, so if you live or work nearby, or if you are interested in lending a hand, we need inspiration and involvement from you!

Please join us for an open house and community discussion about this exciting project!

WHEN| Saturday, June 5th, 2010, 2-5 pm
WHERE| Friends Meeting of Austin 3701 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Learn about the project | Give your input | Get involved!

For more information, please contact SFC at 236-0074 ext. 110 or visit