Vodka and gardening? Not the first pairing that comes to mind, until you learn about the farm that Tito’s Handmade Vodka in Austin, Texas, has created. Each week, Tito’s employees can take home fresh produce, free of charge, while also enjoying lunch cooked on-site using produce from the farm. Recently, I chatted with Kathleen Kuper, Farm Director of Fourteen Acres Farm, to better understand the why, the how, and the future of this program.
Photography courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
The Farm was built for the Tito’s team at the distillery with the goal of creating an environment where fresh food was accessible and to encourage healthy eating. Kathleen shares, “At Tito’s Handmade Vodka, we’re always looking for ways to spread some good in our communities, and also with our employees. When we were thinking of ways that we could better serve our employees, we thought about increasing access to fresh, healthy foods, so we built the Fourteen Acres Farm.”
Now there is a weekly farmers market, bringing the farm’s offerings directly to employees where they can select the produce that interests them, as well as connect with farmers to learn recipes, cooking tips and tricks, and how the food is grown.
Cultivated by a team of seven dedicated farmers, the farm has 74 raised concrete beds, 16 high tunnels, and produces over 25 types of seasonal fruits and vegetables, including artichokes, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, melons, mixed greens, peppers and potatoes—with tomatoes being everyone’s favorite. Recently, the farm added vermiculture, and this fall the farmers will learn how to make bio-complete compost and liquid amendments with vermicompost, plus establish an in-house soil lab where they will conduct crop trials with more fruit, beginning with strawberries.
After seeing the success of the Fourteen Acres Farm with their employees, Tito’s was inspired to start the Love, Tito’s Block to Block program which gives back to communities all across the country, one block at a time. Kathleen explains, “This program focuses on increasing access to fresh, healthy food. Through our Love, Tito’s Block to Block program, we team up with local nonprofits all across the country to build, expand, and enhance community gardens and farms.” Over the past few years, their program has supported more than 90 growing spaces all across the country, from small community gardens to large community farms. “By working with local non profits who know what the community needs, we’ve learned the incredible power of bringing people together through community gardening, as well as increasing the availability of fresh produce for those who need it the most.”
Fourteen Acres plans to expand their space to grow even more produce which would allow them to grow more varieties of fruits and vegetables. Kathleen adds, “We’re also looking to expand our programming with educational and interactive programs for our employees, beyond the recipe cards and ‘Tips & Tricks’ we’re currently providing.” Throughout the fall, the Love, Tito’s Block to Block program will continue improving farms and community gardens plus focus on building completely new garden spaces in over 30 cities, with the ultimate goal of bringing people together through access to fresh food and green spaces.
For more on farming, see:
- Ask the Expert: Tim Mountz of Happy Cat Farm on How to Grow Your Own Tacos From Seed
- Jaftha’s Flower Farm in Cape Town: A Painful History, A Bright Future
- Moving to the Country: A City Girl Finds Hope and Harvest at Meadowburn Farm
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