Local farms need a helping hand.

Volunteering at a local farm does wonders for your mental health!

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

I don't know if you noticed this, but a lot of my stories begin with me at a brewery. This is no acceptation. So, I was at Sigma brewery having a lonely beer, turned to the left and noticed another lonely beer drinker. We began talking. I am a fan of talking to strangers. What makes Houston so great is that we take time to get to know each other.

Thomas and I (Oh, his name was Thomas) bonded over beer and our love for scripted wrestling (think WWF and GLOW of the 80's). We laughed at pictures of the Doomsday Wrestlers in the brew room and videos of my cousin, DeDe, when she was a Powerful Woman of Wrestling in the late 80's.

Thomas and I became fast friends. It turns out that he owned Finca Tres Robles, the only privately owned farm in the inner loop. I had been looking for a unique activity for my tourists to get involved in. We made plans for me to tour his farm.

​Thomas explains what’s growing in the greenhouse.

Author’s own.​

The following Saturday, I turned off of Navigation onto Greenwood before stopping at the farm gate. Thomas meets me at the gate. I can tell he is just as excited as I am. The farm is 1 sq. acre. Picnic tables lined the front next to the farm stand. String lights hung from a tree. There were banana trees to the right, rows of vegetables down the middle of the farm, and greenhouses to the left.

Thomas begins to tell me a bit about the farm and what is in season. As Thomas is talking, I'm taking pictures of the vegetation. Let's take a break here.

Did you ever watch Portlandia? The episode where they go to the restaurant and learn that the chicken on special was organic and cage-free. Before they order, they excuse themselves to visit the actual farm to make sure that the chicken is actually cage-free and organic. Thomas is the real life example of this integrity.

He never had intentions of being a farmer. Thomas became curious of where our food was actually coming from and was it actually healthy? His quest led him to Maine where he served on an organic farm as an apprentice for 4 years. During this time, he found that farming really aligned with his true, inner self.

Moving back to Houston, he began looking for a farm to work on. He couldn't find one that fit his standards, so he and his brothers started Finca Tres Robles. They had no experience in farming what-so-ever and depended on the "fail forward" philosophy. Thomas and his brothers have found a way to produce good looking, tasty vegetables using no pesticides and all recycled products. According to Thomas, failure is a part of being a farmer. So much is out of your hands. You can do everything right on your end and still not have a good crop. "I wish everyone had this experience. Perfection is a non reality. It's pretty liberating."

Volunteers getting a taste of wholesome food.​

​Author’s own.

The next month, I bring my "tourists" to volunteer on Finca Tres Robles. Let's make things clear of why we are even discussing this in the health and fitness section of SportsMap.com Farming is proven to do amazing things for your mental health. There is nothing like being tactile with your food, pulling it out of the ground, feeling the soil in your hands, and just learning the entire ecology of the earth. One thing that Finca Tres Robles wants to teach Houston is that your food should be good for you and taste good and this is how it is done.

The morning that we volunteer, everyone gathers at the picnic tables. We are waiting for Thomas to give us a tour and give us our assignments. We are all impressed with this small space that not too many people are aware of. Everyone agrees that the green leafy vegetables are the best they have ever seen. We are in disbelief that for a farm that uses no pesticides, there are so few holes in the leaves.

After the tour, Thomas takes us to our assignment. Finca Tres Robles needed some weeding. Everyone dropped to their knees and began pulling. It was really relaxing to feel the earth in your hands. To see worms and bugs crawling on the dirt. We got to know each other and tell stories about ourselves the entire time we were weeding. When our work was complete, we all stood up, brushed the dirt off of our clothes, feeling proud and relaxed.

Author’s own.​

It has been over a year since I met Thomas and volunteered at Finca. Recently, I called him to catch up. I was happy to hear that Finca Tres Robles is still going strong. In fact, they have been selected to consult for a farm project with Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. The project is the first public, urban farm on a hospital campus. Thomas is excited that such a big organization was recognizing the value of farming.

I ask about what is new for the season. "One of our best sellers is Misome," which is an Asian green that has a mild, mustardy flavor with tender, bright green leaves. "Also, summer burr gherkins. I call them African cucumbers. We harvest them when they are about the size of an egg. They look like mini watermelons and have a crisp cucumber flavor." I get a kick out of his passion for food. He sounds like a chef.

I bet you are wondering how you can get involved. Take your pick. You have until mid July to subscribe to their CSA farm share program. You can enjoy the same volunteer experience that my "tourists" and I had every 3rd Saturday. You can tour Finca Tres Robles every 2nd Saturday and Pick it yourself every 4th Saturday.

It's not all work and no play, enjoy free yoga at Finca Tres Robles every Wednesday at 7pm. Or you could join them for their 5th Anniversary Abundance Farm Dinner on Sunday, June 2nd. $65 gets you a 4 course meal with cocktails or beer from Sigma Brewery.

Follow Finca Tres Robles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @FincaTresRobles.


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The Astros will look to Framber Valdez to pitch Game 6 of the World Series. Composite image by Jack Brame.

They may not have finished the regular season with the best overall record in all of MLB, and they may not play in one of the toughest divisions in the league. Yet, the 2022 Houston Astros showed plenty of signs this season that their pitching staff was operating at an elite level, and paired with a more-than-adequate offense, they were the best team in baseball all along.

Pitching their way back into the series

The World Series isn't over yet by any means, with the Astros needing to get the final win in Game 6 or a possible Game 7 to finish things off, but the performance their arms put on in games 4 and 5 has to instill a sense of destiny about what's to come. Let's go back to Game 3, where, due to tipping or not, the Phillies offense completely dismantled Lance McCullers Jr. on their way to handing Houston a disheartening 7-0 loss.

That gave Philadelphia a 2-1 series lead after the first of three games at Citizens Bank Park and left Houston searching for a significant flip of momentum and quick. Boy, they got it, with Cristian Javier righting the ship with his spectacular start, going six hitless innings followed by a non-surprising quality night from the bullpen to finish the combined no-hitter.

That tied the series, setting up a big moment for Justin Verlander. After his Game 1 implosion continued his World Series woes, the presumptive Cy Young award winner must've felt some pressure heading into Game 5, knowing that another disappointing start may cost his team the series. Instead, he finally gets his first win in the Fall Classic, making it through five innings while allowing just one run before his bullpen would finish things off for him. Speaking of the bullpen...

Pressly for WS MVP?

Let's talk about Ryan Pressly and his ascension with the Astros. He joined the team via trade in 2018, coming in as a middle-innings reliever. In 2020, then-closer Roberto Osuna suffered an injury, and Houston decided to move Pressly to the closer role. That change has paid massive dividends for the team, and there's been no better display of it than Pressly's performance in this World Series so far.

In Game 1, he enters in a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth and sits down the nine, one, and two hitters of the Phillies to give Houston a chance at a walk-off, though they would go on to lose in extras. In Game 2, he allows the only hit he's given up to the Phillies, which would score after an error but still held on to finish off the victory that tied the series 1-1.

After not appearing in the lopsided Game 3 loss, he enters in the ninth of Game 4, which despite being a 5-0 game, still had a high level of stress with a combined no-hitter on his shoulders, which he would get across the finish line. Then, the night after finishing that no-no, he has the most impressive outing so far.

In the midst of one of the most stressful games of the year for Houston, their bullpen allows a rare run in the bottom of the eighth, making it a 3-2 game and giving the Phillies a chance to put together a series-defining rally if they could take the lead and go up 3-2 in the series. Dusty Baker opts to trust his closer, bringing in Pressly with runners on first and third with one out in a one-run game, asking him to escape the jam and get a five-out save.

The first batter he faces, Pressly does precisely what he needs to do, getting a three-pitch strikeout to allow any out to end the inning, which he would get against the dangerous Kyle Schwarber to send the game to the ninth with the Astros still in front. Then he's faced with the heart of Philadelphia's order in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston still owning a one-run lead. Strikeout, fly out with a fantastic Chas McCormick assist, a hit batter, then a groundout to win the game.

There will be more offense to consider for Jeremy Peña, Alex Bregman, and others that are also firmly in the discussion should the Astros win the series. Still, with how Pressly's going, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Houston's closer takes home the World Series MVP trophy.

Run the playbook one more time

Before the trophies start getting handed out, Houston needs to check off that final box, which is getting one more win. Their recipe for success continues to be having one of their elite starters get as far into the game and with as minor damage as possible, then trusting their bullpen arms to navigate the rest of the way.

With the uncertainty of a Game 7, the Astros need that playbook to work in Game 6, where they'll have their "other ace," Framber Valdez, on the mound looking to replicate the success he had in Game 2, where he went six and one-thirds innings while allowing just one run. After the day off to rest the bullpen, if he can get into the middle innings with a close game, Dusty Baker will be able to piece together the rest with his cast of near-untouchable arms, and Houston will be champions once more.

Bench Framber

Astros Framber Valdez, Justin VerlanderBench FramberComposite image by Brandon Strange

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