Hausbar: East Austin Sustainable Urban Farm

“HausBar is home to two donkeys, a goat, three pet birds, hundreds of chickens, dozens of rabbits, some geese, a few ducks, two humans, tons of sustainably grown vegetables, lots of fresh air and sunshine.”~Hausbar.

I feel that it it important to highlight outstanding community members that are setting examples of how to live light, sustainably, organically, and peacefully.

I went to visit Dorsey Bargar, previous owner of Austin’s Eastside Cafe; a restaurant that she began 20 something years ago because she wanted to serve garden fresh food out of a little quaint house. We had never met (although a friend had tried to introduce us months earlier) so yesterday morning I had decided to drop by unannounced and meet the woman I have heard such great things about. She certainly wasn’t expecting me but opened the door and greeted me with a “Hello Andi Jo.” She was as warm and welcoming as the sun that was shining on my back.

We sipped on coffee while she gave me a tour of her farm. She showed me the area, currently under construction, which would yield an outdoor kitchen space (a horseshoe shaped bar with a chefs table and a wood-buring clay oven)  in which chefs and food educators of Austin can utilize to conduct personal classes. The kitchen sits next to a space that will include a rainwater-fed swimming pool–chemical, saline, and chlorine free–which is next to the fruit trees–fertilized from the pond nestled just above the tree garden–of which will pump water back through a natural filter system, and then feed back into the pool. She was ecstatic when telling me about this process and how it all managed to come together to create one beautifully working cycle.

As we sipped and walked and listened and talked, I tasted the weed called Parslane that she has recently realized was a superfood and quite delicious…no more composting this native weed.

It tasted of lemon zest and water crest. She told me of how she started her restaurant at 24 and how much she had to sacrifice to make it work. “It takes believing and confidence,” she said. Words that encouraged me in my current journey and sunk straight to my soul. It took the same hard work once again for her to create Hausbar. Each row of the garden was tilled and plowed by hand. “It took a long time,” she said, as my eyes scanned the crop: Okra, Japanese turnip, carrots, bell peppers, chard, arugula, collard greens, peppers, and more.

As we continued walking we entered the gate to be with the animals. Two donkeys immediately started to nip at my dress, “I love you and welcome,” they meant. She talked about how she had killed her first chicken since starting Hausbar and how much it impacted her consciousness of eating. “You bet every bit of that chicken is used, small intestine, eyes, liver, and all.” Only the feathers and large intestine are composted. The woman who helps on the farm grew up in Mexico and they didn’t eat any chicken unless they went out and killed it themselves. This woman had the sweetest face and storied etched into the lines on her face. I thought about my great grandma G.G., her farm, and the way she would go out and kill a stewing hen to throw in a pot of chicken and dumplings.

The main house, the guest house, had been transplanted from North Austin. It is surrounded by a wooden fence and is guarded by the sweetest Doberman Pinscher.  The other structures on the property, which had previously been used as a neighborhood crack house, now serve as chicken coops and work shops. Each sector of the farm works in unison to create the sanctuary that Hausbar is.

What a beautiful, awakening, grounding, and educational hour spent–it felt like a mini-vacation. Dorsey is a truly unique and inspiring woman who represents what makes Austin’s community so special. Thank you Dorsey and see you soon!


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