Hobby farms sprouting up in East Texas

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Texas is known for its huge ranches, but a growing number of smaller farms are sprouting up all over.

In East Texas, the 'hobby farms', as they're sometimes called, are growing in number.

"On this side are all perennials. Over here, are all annuals," said Josie Crowson, a flower farmer.

On most days you can find Crowson in her Nacogdoches County flower garden.

"Those I'm getting some nice tall stems this year," she said.

Crowson is one of a growing number of Americans raising crops or livestock on a small scale. They're called hobby farmers.

"In Nacogdoches County there are two CSA's, Community Supported Agriculture, that people sign up for, essentially, it's a subscription service," said Crowson.

Crowson cuts and sells her flowers at the farmers market and to florists. There's always enough left over to fill bucket subscriptions.

"Initially, the first year I had maybe 5 or 6 subscribers and this year, I've got 25," she said.

Oddly enough, gardening was never a hobby for Josie. She was an economist from Virginia. Every plant she got, she immediately killed it. That all changed though, when she attended a cut flower seminar.

Now she knows flowers as well as the busiest bee.

"This is 130 feet of delphinium and snapdragons." This is all queen Anne Lace." "This is all lilies."

She does this all on just one acre. "Two days ago there were sunflowers here. I cut all those and we plant some more," said Crowson.

Texas will always have its thousand acre ranches, but Crowson doubts anyone can match the fulfillment she's receiving from her patch of ground.

"Just the joy of being out in nature. It's very therapeutic being here growing."

The most recent farm census found the number of farms under 50 acres soared nearly 15 percent.  Farms less than 10 acres grew even more, rising about 30 percent to 232,000.

Other hobby farms in Nacogdoches County include beef, vegetable, egg and honey farmers.

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