A few weeks ago I was searching online for information about organic markets in Houston. I was looking for something local yet urban, without really knowing if there was such thing in the city or not. I came across The Last Organic Outpost.
It seemed like a good place to start, so Friday I headed off to town with an address in my GPS without knowing for sure what I was going to find. I drove around concrete walls, wooden houses, old streets, and hidden corners. I went with my husband as Fridays’ are his day off. We found this place right in the middle of town. My husband’s first impressions were “are you sure we are supposed to be here?” – LOL- Me, being me, with my adventure pants on (well I had a skirt but you know my drill) headed into the garden wonderland this is. A little oasis among houses and concrete. Soon after I found Joe with his hands full of fresh dirt among the rows of green crops.
“Hello! May I help you?” Joe said. “see? we are good” I told my husband who was still hesitant and felt like he was transpassing or something. That is how I meet Joe Icet, founder of the Last Organic Outpost. In a matter of minutes, Joe was giving us a tour of the premises and explaining passionately why he does what he does.
The Last Organic Outpost generates healthy communities and establishes a local food economy in Houston’s under-served neighborhoods through urban farming and farm-based art & education. We empower communities through sustainable agriculture that teaches residents to produce safe, healthy and accessible food for all.
Joe envisions a future in which food is available for everyone. A future in which we can transform the neglected 5th ward and transform its run down streets into growing, functional land, supporting local communities.
Our goal to promote self-reliance for other communities, to refine ways to grow nutrient dense foods using cutting edge technologies like sea water agriculture and EM (effective microorganisms), to learn and teach holistic nutrition, help to create a food based economy in Houston by participating with other local and regional growers to produce and bring to local sustainable farmers markets quality nutrition accessible to all.
Along with running the Emile Street Community Learning Farm, Last Organic Outpost is currently focusing it’s efforts on the neglected 5th Ward food desert with the following objectives:
1) Outreach – Initiate the growth of Food Everywhere by building home gardens and a neighborhood-wide orchard of fruit & nut trees in homes and public spaces.
2) Farming – Establish a local food economy by training farmers in non-conventional, but sustainable, environmentally sound methods, establish community farms and encourage farm and local food related businesses in the Fifth Ward.
3) Education – Host community events where we teach residents about healthy nutrition, urban agriculture, and sustainability.
The farm is currently developing traditional crops as well as aquaponic crops sustained by rainwater, which is collected and processed right in the premises.
The farm also has free range chickens providing fresh free range eggs. A small honey farm in the premises also produces enough honey for The Last Organic Outpost to sell during their Sunday Farmer’s Market. Tilapia also grows on the farm but are not currently on sale.
The farm is completely self-sufficient, and it’s a non-profit. If you come during the week you can pick your own vegetables and give them a donation in return. If you don’t know how to pick your own but you want to have an awesome experience (and super fresh veg) Joe is always on hand to help you out.
I am completely in love with the social mission of this place. Joe provides fresh, high-quality crops available to everyone at a low market cost. They also plan to offer more meaningful and sustainable jobs with new projects in the area. They are also developing new innovative techniques to produce sustainable soil using compost and wood chips – But if you want to learn more about that, you better ask the man, Joe.
So if you are in Houston, head over to The Last Organic Outpost. Take your little ones and show them where real food comes from, the ground. Get in touch with the wholesome process of nature and the gratifying feeling of growing/picking your own food.
I am hoping to be back soon and to collaborate with Joe and The Last Organic Outpost in whichever way possible to make this project reach every corner of Houston and its outer loops. If you are interested please do stay in touch, and also, please do follow me and The Last Organic outpost in social media. They do monthly classes open to the public at affordable prices/donations, as well as sell their produce Sundays at East End’s Farmers Market from 10 am – 2 pm!
The Emile Street Community Farm is located at 711 Emile St, Houston, TX 77020. Generally, open Monday thru Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm, times are subject to change during inclement weather.