Autumn Saplings, Wildland Hikes, and Harvest Time Seed-Swaps: Watershed Conservation Events for Mid-to-Late Fall

lake sorrounded by trees

With fall in full swing, it’s the perfect time for Central Texans to think about autumn harvests, seed saving, and the great re-greening of our urban areas. Whether you’re looking for rugged hikes, cozy local-harvest potlucks, stewardship opportunities, or some of the biggest native sapling giveaways in the nation, there’s something for everyone this autumn in Austin!

Interpretive Hikes and Garden Tours

2014 Community Garden TourAustin

From schools, churches, and neighborhood communities to innovative urban farms, it seems everyone is digging into the community garden scene. Sponsored by the Sustainable Food Center, The Coalition of Austin Community Gardens, and the city of Austin, this year’s Community Garden Tour is a great opportunity to get an eyeful of some of the most inspiring urban agriculture efforts in Austin neighborhoods. An open-house style event for all ages, participants can choose to walk, drive, or even join a guided 6-mile bike tour.

October 25, 12:00-3:00 PM

Warblers, Water, and Wildlife Guided Hike on the BCPBee Caves

This 2.5-hour interpretive hike covers a scenic stretch of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve managed by Austin Water Utility’s Wildland Conservation Division. Learn how our local wildlands contribute to ongoing water management efforts in the Austin area, and get to know a little more about one of the region’s most beloved endangered species, the golden-cheeked warbler.

October 25, 1:00-4:00 PM

Scenic Springs and Hidden VistasWQPL

A more rugged hike recommended for those 12 and up, this 3.5-mile trek guides participants through some of Hill Country’s most distinctive terrain. Take in some spectacular views while getting a close up look at some of the area’s unique habitats. Interpretive guides will also provide historical background on the tract, and explain how our local conservation efforts use Water Quality Protection Land to preserve one of the most productive aquifers in the nation, the Edwards Aquifer.

October 25, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Edible Natives Walk and TalkLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

From wild peppers, onions, and garlic to pecans and persimmons, you might be surprised to learn how many native Texas plants are edible. This tour is a great chance to tour the gardens at the Wildflower Center while learning about the edibles that can be found in local backyards and greenbelts. The day’s walk and talk will be led by the Center’s director of horticulture, Andrea Delong-Amaya.

October 25, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Presentations, Classes, and Workshops

Open Gate: Montesino Ranch DayWimberley

A part of Holistic Management International’s Open Gate Learning Series, Montesino Ranch opens its doors to anyone and everyone interested in local efforts to promote sustainable agriculture. Whether you’re looking to gain some first-hand insight into sustainable farming techniques, water conservation, land and wildlife stewardship, or you’d just like to learn more about emerging, holistic approaches to agriculture, this is sure to be a fun and informative event. In addition to a series of brief presentations by field professionals, participants will engage in group exercises and share sustainability tips.

October 25, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Fall Seed Swap PotluckSustainable Food Center

From local farmers to community and home gardeners, seed enthusiasts from all backgrounds are invited to SFC’s fall Seed Swap Potluck. In addition to tasty homemade and/or homegrown dishes, participants should feel free to bring saved seeds, transplants, and harvest goodies to share with other locals in the seed saving community. For those just looking to get started, there will also be a demonstration on seed saving, and plenty of additional resources. To celebrate Halloween, make sure to bring along your pumpkins for jack-o-lantern carving and a curcurbit seed saving demo.

October 30, 6:00 PM-8:00PM

Community Garden Leadership Training Sustainable Food Center

While Austen is already home to numerous community gardens, there is definitely lots of room for growth! As local interest in joint-effort gardening increases, available plots in current gardens are becoming more and more limited. This workshop is a great opportunity to learn how you can help the local economy while promoting sustainable living and thriving neighborhoods. Topics will include how to secure land, community organizing, fundraising and outreach, and garden construction.

November 15, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Volunteer Opportunities

CommUnity Beautification ProjectEast Austin CommUnity Neighborhood Center

Keep Austin Beautiful invites volunteers to help rejuvenate the East Austin CommUnity Neighborhood Center. Participants will aid in dismantling old garden beds and installing new limestone beds, as well as planting native, drought-resistant plants. No experience is necessary, but make sure to bring a water bottle and sturdy gardening gear.

October 31, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Ecology Action Back to the Land WorkdaysCircle Acres

Every month Ecology Action hosts “Back to the Land Workdays” at Circle Acres. Over the past year, volunteers have been working hard to transform the former landfill in East Austin’s Montopolis neighborhood into a Green Infrastructure Demonstration site and nature preserve. Come see how far the project has come, and help put the finishing touches on this amazing restoration project. Volunteer activities range from removing litter following major storms, maintaining walking trails, and helping with green infrastructure improvements. Tools, gloves, and water will be provided, but be sure to dress for the work and the weather.

November 15, 10:00AM-1:00 PM

Sapling Days TreeFolks

Spread the word about the fall planting season and help the folks at TreeFolks hand out thousands of free saplings through the City Shade program. Volunteers can sign up for various venues in the Austin area, and will help to distribute trees, record participant information, and answer basic questions on care and planting.

November 1, 7:30AM-9:30AM                    Colony Park

November 15, 7:30AM-9:30AM                  Balcones Park

November 15, 9:30AM-12:30PM                Westgate Whole Earth

November 18, 7:30AM-9:30AM                  Montopolis Neighborhood Park

Planting Trees in Austin – TreeFolks

Join TreeFolks and the City of Austin’s Urban Forestry Program to help plant 350 large container trees and provide much-needed mulch for our parks and greenbelts. In addition to learning about the importance of urban forest stewardship, volunteers will help to restore plant diversity and conserve and improve local waterways by planting drought-tough native species. Rakes and shovels will be provided, but make sure to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes.

November 1, 7:00AM-10:00AM                  Colony Park

November 15, 7:00AM-10:00AM               Balcones Park

November 18, 7:00AM-10:00AM               Scofield Farms Neighborhood Park