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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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May 17, 2017     Hays Free Press
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May 17, 2017
 

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~e HOME V ES Residents protest tax appraisal values. - Page I D HaysFreePress.com 7) May 17, 2017 Page 1C Area students on a farm tour enjoy the Hill Country view after seeing the workings of the Blue Butterfly organic trips, the farm partners with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms to find workers. PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITNEY BRANDON farm in Dripping Springs. In addition to field Program offers chance t , on local BY SAMANTHA SMITH ApprOgram meant to give eople a chance to articipate in organic farming is starting to gain traction in not only the United States, but in Hays County as well. The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a program meant to provide people living in the cities an opportunity to participate in the organic farming movement. The program was originally established in the United Kingdom as Working Weekends on Organic Farms According to the WWOOF website, "Visitors or 'WWOOFers,'" spend about a half day helping out on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board during their visit. No money is exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers. The Blue Butterfly Farm, located in Dripping Springs, is just one of the four local host farms in Hays County that hosts volunteers through WWOOF and offers "free, hands-on, educational" farm tours for visitors, with options to donate funds back to the farm. Whitney Brandon, owner and farmer of Blue Butterfly Farm, said in an emailed response the farm is family owned and operated. Blue Butterfly uses organic farming methods for growing all produce and other farm goods even raising their animals using organic methods. Brandon said visitors can learn about organic farming, as well as enjoy playtime with the pigs, collect eggs from the chickens and take a tour through the greenhouse and gardens. Visitors can also harvest their own organically grown, farm fresh produce. In keeping with that mission statement Brandon said farm- tours and production from the farm are free of charge, with instead an option to donate funds back to the farm in appreciation for its bounty. "We do not charge admission for farm tours, but rather rely on the generous donations of visitors to help keep the animals fed and the gardens growing," Brandon said. PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITNEY BRANDON' Above, students check out the farm's chicken coop on a tour. WVVOOF workers assist in all areas of Blue Butterfly Farm, including the Magic Greenhouse's six-foot-tall dinosaur kale plant shown below. Visitors also have the option to purchase bags of produce, with proceeds going back to local organic farms. "We are passionate about sharing the blessings of the farm with everyone so all visitors will receive a bag of farm goodies regardless of whether or not they make a donation," Brandon said. Brandon said typically "Through WWOOF, we are connected with people from all over the world and all walks of life, and each one adds a new layer WWOOF members pay for a one-year membership that gives them access to the host farm directory, where they can go and volunteer on a host farm in exchange for room and board. "We have had WWOOFers volunteer / stay anywhere from one day (we have several day volunteers from the Austin area) to a few weeks, to several months," Brandon said. Brandon said currently the Blue Butterfly Farm is not certified organic with the USDA due to financial barriers to certification. They hope to be certified in the future. "We firmly believe nature is the best farmer so we always employ organic and sustainable farming methods, and use certified organic (USDA, OMRI, etc) products to raise our plants and animals," Brandon said. Brandon added membership in the WWOOF program has allowed her family to "share the blessings of beauty to of their farm with everyone." the wings "ThroughWWOOF, we are connected with people from of Blue all over the world and all walks of life, and each one Butterfly adds a new layer of beauty Farm." to the wings of Blue Butterfly Farm," Brandon said. - Whitney Brandon, Brandon said the future owner and farmer of of organic farming in Blue Butterfly Farm Hays County looks bright especially with the help of the WWOOF program. "I encourage other local farmers to get involved with WWOOF because it has been an amazing experience for us (Blue Butterfly Farm). Not only does hosting WWOOF volunteers help with the farm work, but each experience ...... enriches the lives of all the people involved," Brandon said , c i. L ~. by Pauline Tom "fit's spring, it must be time for spring clean- .ing. Recently young Levi Jamail power washed the city signage at the City's entrance and City Hall. What a transformation. Thanks, Levi! Now's a good time to clean closets and cup- boards and yards because we're just weeks away from two annual events that provide a calendar deadline for procrastina- tors. The 1st Saturday in June is Garage Sale Day for Mountain City. There's no form or fees. Just set up your own sale or go together with neighbors. On NextDoor.com and Craigslist, ads can be placed for FREE. MONTAGE, 3C Ask Amanda by Amanda Moon plants from genus (kn( I as sages) 1~ i become very popula~ !~ i the last few years duet6 their extreme heat and drought tolerance, Mthough there are other plants commonly referred to as sage (i.e. Russian and Jerusalem sage), the salvia genus contains the true sages. The most well-known is probably Salvia greg- gii (aka autumn sage). Culinary garden sage is also a salvia that's just as hardy as its ornamental counterparts. Mongside these more common salvias, there are several you may never have heard of that look beautiful in the landscape, and will give you a little bit of variety in your yard. 1. Hot Lips (Salvia microphylla) is similar in growth habit to autumn sage, but due to its slight- ly larger leaves it will tol- erate anything from full sun to light shade and still thrive. The flowers are an unusual combina- tion of red and white. Sometimes they are all red or white but will also bloom in a mix of red and white on the same flower. Because of its red flowers, this plant is popular with hummingbirds. Hot lips will gr0w to a he!~:and width of about 3 ~ it sur- vived the last thre6 years without missing a beat ASK AMANDA, 2C + ....... 7'Ill Ii ,~i " ]ii1 " T