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Central Texas Farmers Survive Selling Directly To Customers

Central Texas farmers survive selling directly to customers

Central Texas farmers are adjusting to the new reality and in some cases thriving at farmers markets from Cedar Park to Southwest Austin. Even with strict access requirements and cones to keep customers 6 feet apart, sales are high, albeit with fewer customers who are buying more than they did before. “Our farmers and ranchers are doing pretty well,” said Evan Driscoll, interim executive director of the Texas Farmers Market, with locations at Lakeline Mall and Mueller, citing a surge…

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Supporting Local Hill Country Producers

Supporting local Hill Country producers

During these unprecedented times, it’s especially important to support and invest in our local communities. One way to do this is with our food choices. You can help local businesses bounce back from economic downturns and invest in the overall resiliency of your community by buying from Hill Country farmers and producers.  Farmers’ Markets often meet weekly - typically outdoors - and are a great way to be exposed to your region’s local producers. Food cooperatives (often just called co-ops)…

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Essential Austin Nonprofit Finding New Ways To Nourish Community Amid COVID-19

Essential Austin nonprofit finding new ways to nourish community amid COVID-19

Tune into the Urban Roots Instagram feed and you’ll find a new series of videos featuring executive director Max Elliott teaching viewers how to plant peppers; showcasing his ready crop of kale and the helpful, aphid-eating ladybug larvae that live on the leaves; or interviewing (at a safe distance) local restaurant business leaders. His tone is even and hopeful, a brief lifeline to those of us battling isolation as the COVID-19 outbreak wears on. In 2008, Elliott founded Urban Roots as…

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As Texans Are Exposed To Dangerous Pesticides, Lawmakers Aren’t Doing Anything

As Texans are exposed to dangerous pesticides, lawmakers aren’t doing anything

In the interim between legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee will have an opportunity to examine an important but under-the-radar problem that’s making people sick in farming communities across the state. Then again, their attention might drift. Pesticide drift occurs when crop dusters—pilots or tractor drivers hired by farmers to spray pesticides on fields to kill weeds and bugs—miss the mark and inadvertently deliver a cloud of poison to people, plants, and animals. Since 2013, the Texas…

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Newly Detected Moth Threatens Prickly Pear In Texas

Newly detected moth threatens prickly pear in Texas

Texas is now the front line of an ecological battle pitting a devastating invasive moth against the state’s ubiquitous prickly pear cactus. Already, the South American cactus moth has laid waste to the cactus population in Florida, having come ashore there roughly 30 years ago. Now field biologists with the University of Texas have spotted it in South Texas and are rushing to bring the moth population under control. If they can’t, they say, a plant iconic to the Texas frontier…

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For Stay-at-home Stress Relief, San Antonians Turn To Gardening

For stay-at-home stress relief, San Antonians turn to gardening

Stir crazy from the coronavirus stay-at-home quarantine, San Antonians are moving outside to relieve stress, gain a sense of control, and enjoy the wonders of spring. City officials have permitted local nurseries to remain open while San Antonio and Bexar County are under the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order through April 9 and are adjusting hours and offerings as needed, including for curbside pickup. With the first day of spring just behind us, the usual peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers are…

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Crops To Cul-de-sacs: As Pastoral Land Disappears In Central Texas, One Man Holds Back The Tide

Crops to cul-de-sacs: As pastoral land disappears in Central Texas, one man holds back the tide

From the cab of his pickup, Ron Collins gives a tour of a bygone era, when his Pilot Knob neighborhood in southeastern Travis County was a country outpost, home to his extended family, which traces its roots there back more than a century. Here is where his old two-room, all-black elementary school sat — his teacher used to drive him home with a loaf of bread on the dash to warm it up enough that butter would melt right on…

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AgriLife Extension Provides Auxin CEU Training Online

AgriLife Extension provides auxin CEU training online

COVID-19 might have much of the world social distancing, but agricultural crops still must be planted, and producers still have regulations to follow. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is ready to help the process. Agricultural producers needing auxin training can still turn to AgriLife Extension for their continuing education credits, CEUs, despite the COVID-19 cancellation of all in-person meetings and trainings. “Texas A&M AgriLife efforts to help people with their pesticide recertification and auxin training continues,” said Dan Hale, Ph.D., associate…

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Getting Groceries In Austin During A Pandemic: Where To Shop, How To Help Employees

Getting groceries in Austin during a pandemic: Where to shop, how to help employees

Grocery store employees are working overtime, and it’s nearly impossible to schedule a curbside pickup or delivery from Austin’s major supermarkets and stores. Local community-supported agriculture programs are full, and one of the biggest local food delivery companies, Farmhouse Delivery, also is not taking on new customers. Although many supermarkets are hiring extra staff and food delivery companies are scrambling to expand capacity, there are things that shoppers can do, both to help grocery store employees keep up and to…

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Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population Plunges Below Extinction Threshold

Eastern monarch butterfly population plunges below extinction threshold

The yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico, released today, shows a decrease of 53% from last year's count and is well below the threshold at which government scientists predict the migration could collapse. Scientists estimate that 6 hectares—about 15 acres—is the extinction threshold for the migratory butterflies' survival in North America. The latest count, conducted by World Wildlife Fund Mexico, found overwintering monarchs occupying just 2.83 hectares, or 7 acres. Read more from Tierra Curry, of the Center for…

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