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April 03, 2013

Farming at Travaasa Austin

By Ingrid Skjong | Hotels

Farming at Travaasa Austin
Courtesy of Travaasa Austin

Travaasa Austin, known for its active, adventurous offerings, added a new pursuit to its roster on April 1: farming. With 3.25 acres of crop-producing land, a head farmer and a collection of agriculturally geared classes, the operation is a serious one by any measure.

“The farm is large enough to warrant a tractor but small enough to seed, plant, weed and harvest everything by hand,” says resident farmer Kim Grabosky. “It can become as complex and diversified as we can dream it.”

The main field grows mostly vegetables, producing nearly 80 varieties including okra, eggplant, beets, onions and peppers. A three-quarter-acre orchard within the plot grows fruits (lemons, limes, clementines, kumquats), with indigenous pecans, edible flowers and all manner of herbs (curry leaf, sage, yarrow) rounding out the harvest. About half of the crops begin growing in the farm’s greenhouse, and Benjamin Baker, Travaasa’s executive chef, makes good use of the seasonal, locally sourced produce.

But while the culinary advantages of a farm this size are obvious, Grabosky wants guests to learn. Classes on basic seed germination, composting and chicken tending—a hundred laying birds of different breeds populate part of the acreage—take place in a 2,300-square-foot activity garden. Her current focus is on soil microbe health, which she says supports the entire health of the enterprise, and she has big plans for the farm, including the addition of bees and more exotic perennials such as avocados and guava. Ultimately, however, she wants visitors to leave with a better appreciation for and understanding of the foods they eat.

“Getting out in the field and learning with your hands takes things to a higher level,” says Grabosky. “That’s what I’m looking to do—to build an experience for the guest that they can’t easily access in their everyday lives.” At 13500 Farm to Market Rd. 2769; 512-364-0061; travaasa.com/austin.