To honor longtime East Austin friend, farmer and mentor Larry Butler, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) has established the Larry Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund for Beginning Farmers. The FARFA board decided to establish the funds soon after Butler succumbed to liver cancer on June 28 at the beloved Boggy Creek Farm that he and his wife, Carol Ann Sayle, started in 1992.
FARFA is a national organization that supports and advocates for independent family farmers, ranchers, livestock owners, homesteaders and consumers. Executive Director Judith McGeary says her group wanted to do something special to commemorate Butler—not only because he and Sayle were among the founding members of FARFA, but also because Butler was well-known across the state for his generosity and willingness to help new organic farmers find their way.
“We thought it would be appropriate to establish a scholarship in his name because helping and mentoring beginning farmers of any age was so much of what he was all about,” McGeary says. “He came to farming as a second, or really a third occupation, and he was a great believer in the value of information and education and helping others. So that’s what this scholarship is set up to do.”
Butler and Sayle first began growing organic fruits and vegetables for their own use in 1981, at their property near Gause in Milam County close to where Butler grew up. Once they’d purchased and established Boggy Creek Farm, they received an organic certification, making the farm one of the first certified organic farms in the state and one of the earliest urban farms in the country. Boggy Creek quickly became a mecca, not only for hungry customers but for other farmers hungry for knowledge.
Brad Stufflebeam, farmer and former president of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA), has credited Butler with inspiring and encouraging him to pursue farming—even through lessons you may not expect, such as how to build a potato planter out of a toilet flange, and how to eradicate squash bugs with a propane flamethrower.
FARFA is accepting donations to the scholarship fund and through a sister organization, the Council for Healthy Food Systems. The scholarship will provide financial assistance for beginning farmers to attend FARFA, TOFGA and other educational conferences. McGeary says that FARFA’s website will soon feature an application form for farmers who want to apply for the funds.
Find out more at farmandranchfreedom.org
By Clay Coppedge