The Fantastic Garden of Carol Koutnik

Les Choux Merveilleux by Carol Koutnik

It’s not every day that a celebrated artist stops by and asks to paint your garden. But that’s just what happened, almost a year ago to the day, when plein-air painter Carol Koutnik visited our farm with a vision for her next project.

Carol has been our wonderful friend and faithful Farm Share customer for many years.  She told us she was initially inspired by the food she received each week, “food worthy of painting”.  She said the freshly-picked vegetables began to stir memories of her uncle’s beautiful garden from her childhood in Chicago, that she visited often as a child.

But she grew up as a military kid, then as a married woman, moving all over the world but never in one place long enough to plant a garden.  That garden from her childhood grew in memory until she needed to capture it in paint.  We showed Koutnik around our gardens, and she used it as a springboard for something extraordinary.

Now, this weekend, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, Carol Koutnik will unveil her latest exhibit, “The Fantastic Garden”. This collection features forty diverse works of art: oil paintings, fortune-tellers, graphite sketches, and clay images. The art is simply breathtaking.  The work focuses on many vegetables from the garden, but best of all, Koutnik features cabbages.

I knew these cabbages, or at least thought I did. I planted them painstakingly from seed, coaxed them to maturity for ninety long days, and watched their tender hearts form in the center.

These forms are what attracted Koutnik to the garden, and what she captures so brilliantly in her work: the unfolding heart, with all its secrets, with all of its creative power.

Her colors are surreal; the light and shadow a revelation—it’s not the plant, but the spirit of the plant she sees. I looked at those cabbages a hundred times from my hands and knees, as I scanned the plants daily for cabbage loopers and cutworms, but I never got even a glimpse of what Koutnik saw.

David Hill, Adjunct Instructor of Art at Texas A&M—Corpus Christi, offered a glowing review of the exhibit. Hill explains that the cabbages are not artistic symbols, but instead they are “living things that remind [the artist] of nurturing, mystery, maturity, and fecundity.” Hill says the work is an “experience of cabbages, the experience of curiosity and marvel.”

Those humble cabbages are now five feet wide up on the canvas. Koutnik has transformed them into something entirely new, something timeless.   They are now the process of creation itself, the energy of the earth blooming in the paint on her canvas, the secrets in the heart of the cabbage, in the heart of the artist, unfolding, opening in ever-expanding leaves of color.

Now, this garden belongs to everyone. Now it belongs to you.

You can see “The Fantastic Garden” of Carol Koutnik this Saturday, April 8, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, the same day and starting place as the Rockport Tour of Homes. Koutnik will give a gallery talk at 4:30pm on Sat, April 8th.  The exhibit runs through May 13th.

Fantasticke Zeli by Carol Koutnik

The Great Tomato Workshop this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to Noon!

Juliette Variety Tomatoes (Four String Farm)

Friends, Kayla and I are excited to host a tomato gardening class at Four String Farm this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to noon.

This interactive hands-on workshop will teach you everything you need to know to grow delicious, healthy, prolific tomatoes.  On our farm, we grow thousands of pounds of tomatoes each season.  We will show you the techniques we have developed over the years to get the most sweet and flavorful tomatoes with the least amount of work.

Everything You Need to Know to Grow Wonderful Tomatoes!

We will cover soil health, how and when to plant, tomato varieties, companion planting, how to trellis, irrigation, fertilizing, mulching, pest control, tomatoes in pots, and more. This will be a hands-on class. You will actually plant tomatoes in bare dirt to demonstrate the techniques, and we will answer all your questions in the process.

The average tomato plant yields about five to 20 pounds of tomatoes during the season and often gets ravaged by pests and then shuts down in June. We will show you how to get 50 lbs or more from the tomato plants in your garden throughout the summer!

We Will Have Some Helpful Materials on Site, if You Need Them

Some materials, such as a sturdy trellises, can be difficult for a backyard gardener to find in small quantities. We will have these materials available for you.  If you like, we can cut small sections of trellis for you, so you can take home only as much as you need at very little cost.

We will have our favorite varieties of tomato six-packs and 4” plants (along with appropriate companion plants) on hand if you would like them. We will also recommend the stores and other resources in our area where you can find these items.

The cost of this workshop is $20 per person. You must register and pay in advance for this class.

Click here to pay $20 per person to register for The Great Tomato Workshop on March 18 from 9:00am to noon.  We will e-mail you with directions and more details upon registration.

Thank you friends! We look forward to seeing you!

Farm Share Coming to Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market!

Tea at Eleanor's Coffee Bar + Market

Tea at Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market

Friends, our Farm Share is coming to Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market in Corpus Christi!

Beginning in March, Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market will be a pick-up location for the Farm Share. We will deliver the Farm Share to Eleanor’s on Fridays for you to pick up between noon and 3:00pm. (To reserve your Farm Share at Eleanor’s, please stay tuned to this site. We will announce openings for March in the next few days, thank you!)

Kayla and I are thrilled to partner with Jessica Gignac, the owner and creative force behind Eleanor’s. Kayla has followed Jessica for years and loves everything she does. Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market is elegant and classy and tasteful with a great vibe.


Here is a sample of what you will find at Eleanor’s: seriously good coffee; high-quality teas; fresh juices made from wholesome ingredients; avocado toast with poached egg and micro-greens (definitely try that one); smoothie bowls; the baked goods of Fed by Bread; cookies; granola; kombucha; and much more. The market features high-quality roasted coffee beans, teas, honey, home goods, and other tasteful items.

When you come to pick up your Farm Share from Eleanor’s on Fridays, feel free to stay for a minute to enjoy a coffee or tea, or a healthy snack, or a nice lunch. There is a wonderful atmosphere at Eleanor’s—bring a book to read or bring a friend for a nice visit. It is a special place.

Eleanor's:  Jessica Preparing Breakfast

Eleanor’s: Jessica Preparing Breakfast

We are so blessed to partner with wonderful people like Jessica Gignac. You will love stopping at Eleanor’s to pick up your Farm Share!

The Farm Share at Kimmi’s Fine Foods on Tuesdays

Of course, we will continue to deliver the Farm Share through Kimmi’s Fine Foods on Tuesdays. Kimmi has been our partner, supporter, leader, encourager, advisor, and loyal friend for five years now with many more to come.

Kimmi has shown us the profound value of local partnerships based on integrity, trust, and the passionate commitment to serving others. We don’t know what we would do without our Kimmi.

The Farm Share at Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays

We also look forward to resuming the Farm Share at the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays in March. The GROW Local folks are totally dedicated to bringing local food to Corpus Christi, and they know how to host a beautiful market. We can’t wait to see everyone there!

March Farm Share Openings, Coming Soon!

Please stay tuned for Farm Share openings in March, coming in the next few days. Thank you friends for you partnership with our farm, we are so honored to serve you!

Jessica Gignac, Owner of Eleanor's (photo courtesy and

Jessica Gignac, Owner of Eleanor’s (photo courtesy and

Four String Farm Announces New Partnerships!

Justin, Emma, and Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farm

Justin, Emma, and Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farm

Friends, Kayla and I are thrilled to announce some exciting new partnerships with our farm!

We have created supplier partnerships with Spirit Pioneering Farm of Victoria, Turkey Hollow Farm of Cuero, and Palo Verde Cattle Co of Berclaire.

Beginning in March, our Farm Share will include the produce, pork, beef, chicken, eggs, and other products of these beautiful farms. They grow their plants and animals without chemicals using heritage techniques similar to ours. The produce is chemical-free, the beef is grass-fed, and the pork, chicken, and eggs are raised on pasture.

We can’t wait for you to experience the freshness, flavor, and wholesome goodness of this food. We are honored to offer the harvest of these farms in our Farm Share.

We will tell you more about the farmers and their products in the coming weeks. For now, please know that Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farms, Ryan Keller of Turkey Hollow Farm, and Tim Fitch of Palo Verde Cattle Co., are smart and experienced growers. They pioneered their farms themselves. They are full-time farmers with families to support. They know what they are doing.

These partnerships will reduce gaps or low points in our Farm Share supply, as we balance our offerings among several strong farm programs. The diversity and geographic spread of our farms will ensure a more steady and reliable supply of high-quality products.

Finally, Tyson, Ryan, and Tim are great people. We are so thankful to partner with such wonderful people to strengthen our business and bless our family. We will work to make sure the Farm Share also strengthens and empowers their families as well.

We will of course continue to offer our own products in the Farm Share. On top of that, we will continue to supplement with organic produce from Kimmi’s Fine Foods. We are so excited about the expansion of our Farm Share, we hope you are ready for some epic meals in the coming months!

We will announce openings in the March Farm Share in the next few days. Thank you, friends, for your continued partnership with our farm. Our farm family just got a little bigger, and we are so glad to have you in it!

Palo Verde Cattle Co Loading them Up!

Palo Verde Cattle Co Loading Up!

The Beautiful Pastured Hogs at Turkey Hallow Farm

The Beautiful Pastured Hogs at Turkey Hollow Farm

A Tiny Farmer at Spirit Pioneering Farm

A Tiny Farmer at Spirit Pioneering Farm

A Healthy Holiday Video from Kayla

If you want some healthy eating tips for the holidays and a good laugh, see this video from Kayla.  Dietitian how-to videos are not usually this hilarious.

Don’t worry, our baby did not really eat a bag of cat food.  Kayla made that story up ad lib; pretty good comedic timing!  All dance scenes (plus all other scenes) are unrehearsed.  Thank you Hollie Mims for the best facial expressions ever.  Please enjoy!

Four String Farm picked up by Associated Press!

Kayla Harvesting Turnips (photo by

Kayla Harvesting Turnips (photo by

Friends, Kayla and I were featured on the front page of the Caller-Times this week in a wonderful article by reporter Natalia Contreras. That article was picked up by the Associated Press and is now appearing in newspapers across the country.

Thanks to that article, we are excited to welcome new friends from all over to our site!  This article is now showing in every major newspaper in Texas and in papers across America from Seattle to San Francisco and back again.

We hope you can visit us soon at one of our gardening or cooking classes. Or, join us in our Farm Share program for a weekly delivery of something good! We invite you to like our Facebook page or sign up here for updates about our farm.

We love to share our heritage farming techniques to help you grow your own healthy and delicious food without the use of chemicals. Four String Farm will be featured in a Smithsonian Exhibit coming soon, click here for details. This exhibit may come to your city, we hope you can see it!

Kayla and I write for The Bend Magazine. Look for the November issue—we just saw the proof, it is a beautiful edition! We also host a weekly radio program, “Your Wholesome Heritage Garden”, that airs on KEDT/KVRT every Tuesday.

For a closer look at our farm, check out the beautiful photography of Mae Burke and our dear friend Rachel Durrent.

Thank you for visiting us, we are so glad to have you!

Kids Gardening/Cooking Class on Sat, Nov 12th from 9:00am to Noon!

Emma Feeding Cow

Emma Feeding Cow

Friends, bring your children to Four String Farm for a combined gardening/cooking class on Saturday, November 12, from 9:00am to Noon! Children of all ages are welcome!

Your kids will learn how to plant a small starter garden and how to cook something delicious out of it! We want your little ones to go home with the skills to prepare their own meal from produce they grow themselves.

Kid’s Gardening/Cooking Class Agenda

The kids will begin the class by tending to the pigs and interacting with our goats and cows along the way. They will feed the laying hens and learn about egg production. These activities are designed to show kids where food really comes from.

Next, the children will plant their own starter garden. They will get their hands in the dirt, dig, plant seeds, and water their garden.

Then they will prepare a meal from their freshly-picked harvest. They will make their own homemade pizza from scratch and dress the pizza with ingredients from the garden.

Parent or Guardian is Required

Each child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Your job as an adult in this class will be to keep your little ones safe and make sure they behave. There will be some walking and standing for you while the little ones plant their garden.  For the safety of the children and our animals, farm rules must be obeyed at all times!

During the cooking portion of the class you can cook with your child or relax in a lawn chair in the shade and enjoy complementary water or a delightful refreshment from Groovie Smoothie (available for purchase).

How to Sign up for the Class

This will be a small class to make sure each participant gets the most out of this experience. You must register and pay for this class in advance. Registration closes November 11 or when the class is full.

Click to register one or more children for this class.

Once you complete your payment online, we will email you directions to the farm and additional details and information about this class.

We are so excited to have you and your little ones out at the farm! We look forward to a wonderful day of learning and fun!

Mud Pies are NOT on the menu in this class!

Mud Pies optional but not on the menu in this class!

Corpus Christi Caller-Times Video of Our Farm!

Friends, click this video for a sneak-peek of a Corpus Christi Caller-Times article about Four String Farm coming out on Monday.

Kayla and I had an in-depth interview this week with Natalia Contreras of the Caller-Times.  Courtney Sacco took photographs of us moving chickens, planting seeds, and other routine chores.  We are so thrilled that the Caller-Times took an interest in our farm!

We will forward the article when it comes out.  Thank you Natalia and Courtney, we are so grateful for you guys!

Whole30 Workshop this Saturday at Four String Farm

Kayla Butts (photo by Michael Diamonte)Join Brittany Barnes and Kayla Butts at Four String Farm this Saturday, May 7, from 9:00am to noon, for a Whole30 Workshop!

Brittany is a Certified Natural Health Professional and Kayla is a registered and licensed dietitian (see more about the instructors below).

In this workshop, Brittany and Kayla will deconstruct this popular 30-day program to help you regain a healthy metabolism and decrease the amount of inflammation in your body.

The premise of the Whole30 program is “to change your life in 30 days”, and you can do it! This workshop will unlock the secrets and details of the Whole30 program and offer you insightful tips for a healthy diet.

Kayla Butts MS, RD, LD will begin the class by giving you an educational tour of the Four String Farm gardens and animal paddocks, explaining and illustrating how farming methods affect nutrition and health.

The second half of the class will take place indoors, where Brittany Barnes will lead a discussion of the Whole 30 program. She will prepare one of her favorite Whole30 dishes and answer all your questions in the process.

The class will include a meal plan as well as recipes for you to take home.

The cost for this class is $35. This will be a small class with personalized attention by Brittany and Kayla, and pre-registration and payment is required.

Please register for this class by clicking here: We are so sorry, this class is closed!  Please sign up on this site to receive updates about future classes.  Thank you so much!

What: Whole30 Workshop

Where: Four String Farm in Rockport, TX

When: May 7th, 9:00am to Noon

Cost: $35 (Pre-registration is required) We are so sorry, this class is closed!  Please sign up on this site to receive updates about future classes.  Thank you so much!

About the Instructors:

Brittany Barnes is a Level One Certified CrossFit Trainer who trains at Rockport Health & Fitness and for individuals. She completed her certification during her Senior year as a homeschool student. Whole body fitness is her passion, which led her to becoming a Certified Natural Health Professional in March 2016. She understands the balance between healthy eating and exercise which aid in a more productive lifestyle, and desires to help others achieve their goals also.

Kayla Butts is a registered, licensed dietitian, farmer, food writer, and home chef. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from The University of Texas and her Master of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. Her passion is making nutritious food accessible and practical. She loves teaching kids how to prepare their own meals, especially her three daughters.

Brittany Barnes 4-28-16

Look for Heirloom Produce at Kimmi’s Store

Pattison Strie Melange

Pattison Strie Melange

Friends, stop by Coastal Bend Health Foods in Rockport every day this week for beautiful heirloom produce freshly delivered from our farm.

This week, we are featuring rare heirloom squash that you won’t find anywhere else in South Texas.  We have more than 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs now ripening in our gardens.  These pictures show Kayla and Madeleine picking them for you!

We have some lovely French squash, called pattison.  You can find strie mélange, panache blanc et vert, and marbre.  You can also find the rare Italian ronde di nice.  Look for striped green cushaw, which is a very old Native American variety, along with Caserta and other unique varieties.

You will also find butternut, yellow crookneck, striped zucchini, scallopini, and many other tasty squashes.  There are freshly picked carrots, beets, collards, prima rosa chard, lettuce, Tuscan kale, nasturtium bouquets, and many other veggies.

We can’t wait for you to try these squash and let us know how you like flavor.  The techniques we employ to grow the sweetest and most flavorful produce are really beginning to tell.  Each squash has its own unique taste.  We hope you love these wonderful squashes and other veggies as much as we do!

Stop by Kimmi’s store to try this produce.  The prices are great and Kimmi will always greet you with a smile!

Caserta Squash

Caserta Squash

Patisson Panache Blanc et Vert and Lemon Squash

Patisson Panache Blanc et Vert and Lemon Squash

Ronde de Nice

Ronde de Nice

Prima Rosa Chard

Prima Rosa Chard

Super Sweet and Delicious Carrots

Super Sweet and Delicious Carrots

Patisson Golden Marbre

Patisson Golden Marbre

Nasturtium Bouquets

Nasturtium Bouquets

Luogo Blanco

Luogo Blanco

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