Enchanted Woodlands farm will bring sustainable, holistic businesses to Dripping Springs

The Butterfly Garden is one of several businesses to join the Enchanted Woodlands farm development in Southwest Austin.

The Butterfly Garden is one of several businesses to join the Enchanted Woodlands farm development in Southwest Austin.

A 31-acre farm in Dripping Springs will soon be home to a slew of businesses focused on holistic and sustainable living.

The Enchanted Woodlands, located at 10802 Kit Carson Road, Dripping Springs, will house three child-centered businesses, along with an apiary, a “market garden,” horse-boarding stables, a petting zoo, a produce market and a catch-and-keep pond.

Janine Goodwin, who oversees the property, said the farm was perfectly suited for the second location of her outdoor preschool The Butterfly Garden. Owner of the farm Mark Goodin tasked Janine with locating similar businesses to lease out space on the property, which includes a farm house, a bunk house, a barn and a butterfly hoop house.

“The farm is almost like an incubator for new businesses that are around a common theme,” Goodin said. “Austin is weird and entrepreneurial enough for that type of thing to work.”

The businesses

Built in the 1850s by two Confederate soldiers, the property's farm house will be occupied by The Butterfly Garden and early childhood music program tuneBugz, whose owner Amber Nichols said she chose the location to appeal to clients looking for a "natural country experience."

"The farm is a beautiful gem in Dripping Springs," Nichols said.

In operation since 2009, tuneBugz uses the trademarked Music Together program to foster musical growth in children ages zero to seven, Nichols explained. The Enchanted Woodlands farm house location will be fully operational in time for the program's fall semester, which begins in September, Nichols said.

"I've been really overwhelmed [by] the response; it has really motivated me," she said. "I added two new teachers so that when we ramp up, everything is covered and we can receive the community that is interested."

Mama Melli Childcare Center will occupy the 800-square-foot, two-bedroom bunk house and will offer play-based holistic day care services. Owner Melissa Peck said she plans to use the property's many amenities to shape her curriculum, such as by implementing a daily nature walk where children can visit the chickens, horses and other animals housed on the property.

"I'm so excited to explore with the kids," she said. "I love the idea of being outside in the fresh, open air around all of the animals. It feels so good to be out there."

Peck's method of child care is strongly focused on low child-to-adult ratios and the practice of mindfulness, she said.

"We set aside a time each day called 'time-in' when we introduce mindfulness concepts and ideas," she said. "This is where we can imagine, create, sing and take those things that we learned and use them throughout the day."

The property's barn will house Patriot's Produce, a produce market and Norpro kitchen gadget retailer dedicated to helping veterans reintegrate into society following deployment. Rene Tennison said she was inspired to begin the business following her son's return from two tours in Iraq.

"I moved to Austin from Houston four years ago because my son was having a difficult time reintegrating back into society," Tennison said. "When I asked him what would have helped, he said if he had a place like ReGroup, it would have changed everything."

The ReGroup Foudation is a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing veteran homelessness and hardship by providing healthy living environments for military service men and women during their transitions back into civilian life. Twenty percent of the profits from the Patriot's Produce physical location and online store will be donated to ReGroup. Each year, Tennison will contribute a portion of her revenue to a different veteran organization.

"I want people to come there, bring their kids from the music school, hang out and eat fresh fruit and just enjoy being out there like I do," Tennison said. "I want them to have that sense of peace."

Tennison said she hopes to have the market up and running by mid-September.

Other businesses to open on the property include an apiary and a "market-garden," or a small-scale production of crops grown on a condensed area of land.

Mark Goodwin said he is looking forward to watching the farm transform into an entrepreneurial cooperative of sorts.

“I am excited about all the different businesses,” he said. “A nice peaceful place is good and fine but a really cool place is even better when you get to share it.”
By Olivia Lueckemeyer

Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


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