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Small business week: Johnson's Backyard Garden wants to sustainably feed Austin

JBG sets up every week at the SFC farmers' market. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Editor's note: It's small business week from May 2-8, so Austonia will highlight a small business every day this week. Check back tomorrow for the next small business profile.

Johnson's Backyard Garden has a mission: feeding the Austin community high-quality, certified organic produce that was grown right here in our backyards.

JBG started with humble beginnings—the year was 2004 when Brenton Johnson started selling the veggies he grew in his East Austin backyard at local farmers' markets. After 17 years, you can find it at 11 different markets and select stores around town, delivering fresh veggies to 10 different cities.

Today, all the produce is grown in Garfield, Texas, on 186 acres of land; the company quickly outgrew Johnson's small backyard. JBG marketing manager Ada Broussard said with the huge growth in Austin, local produce is in high demand.

"I wanted to work for a farm that was producing food in a way that was both sustainable and regenerative for the environment," Broussard said. "We are a local farm here but we're also in a huge growing town—there are almost a million people in this area so it really takes a lot of farmland to grow food for this community. JBG is able to grow a lot of food and turn the dial a little bit on our local food economy."

So why buy local produce?

Broussard said one of the biggest reasons is getting more bang for your buck. When you buy local, you buy fresher food and reduce your carbon footprint because it doesn't have to travel as far. It lasts longer, supports the local economy and keeps farmland from being developed.

Plus, Broussard said, local produce has more nutrients and tastes better.

"There are so many benefits and when you buy food locally, it gives you an opportunity to really know your farmer, which is just nice because it's easier to ensure the environmental sustainability or the quality or the employee welfare," Broussard said. "And of course, when you're eating from a local farm, you're really supporting the men and women who are the farmers at that business."

If you don't believe it, you can go check the farm out for yourself. JBG has a farm stand on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. where you can roam the fields, buy transplants for your own summer garden and of course, stock up on a rainbow of vegetables. Broussard said her current favorites are the variety of onions.

Even if you can't make it to JBG's myriad locations, it offers a Community Supported Agriculture program that delivers produce directly to your door.

"Having more residents in Austin and more people interested in local produce is definitely something we welcome," Broussard said. "We wish that there were more farms like us. We still need more local farms to feed the town. There are plenty of people that we're unable to feed so if there was more and more produce being grown here locally, it would help the supply to the local community."


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