Franks has deep love for St. John Colony while chasing dreams


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

St. John Colony in Caldwell County has a long list of individuals who have made a difference throughout Texas, as well as the world. Harve Franks can be added to the ever-growing list as the Master Gardener teaches and grows food for sustainable living.

Franks, a 1981 graduate of Lockhart High School, studied at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts. She has worked as a Landscape Designer in the Atlanta area, including such projects as Emory University, the Crowne Plaza, and Morehouse University.

While volunteering for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, she may have found her niche when she was told that she was the only volunteer allowed to walk around with scissors.

Franks returned to Caldwell County to fight to save her grandfather’s farm — Renaissance Ranch at Chateau Rouge in St. John Colony.

She said she fought for the “Blood, sweat and tears of Black farmers and Indigenous.”

She currently works for the City of Austin Parks and recreation Department at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center as its Community Garden Coordinator. She is an ambassador for the non-profit Sustainable Food Center in Austin and is on a variety of committees — C.O.A. Austins Food Sustainability Plan, EGL’S Emerging Green Leaders, and Children in Natures Network.

Franks teaches Horticultural Curriculums and Classes such as Farm to Table Summer camps for Youth, lectures for University of Texas students, and has Fall Horticulture Classes for Adults and for Seniors. 

She also teaches a Fall Lecture Series through Austin Public Library and a Fall Adult Horticultural Series through the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

“My focus is on Food Sustainability, Horticultural education, and creating micro climates through food forestry,” Franks said.

Earlier this year, Franks was nominated as a Net Zero Hero for her advocacy on sustainability.

She is currently among others vying for the $25,000 grand prize as the next culinary icon and to appear on the cover of Taste of Home and cooking with celebrity chef Carla Hall.

Should she win, Franks said she would be able to irrigate and get electricity on ger grandfather’s former peanut farm that she inherited. Voting ends May 30.

Her favorite all-time dish to make is pineapple chicken with stir-fried collards and sweet potatoes.

Franks raises bees as well as plants trees at the farm, adding that she has a love for the planet, gardening, family, community, nature, and fresh food.


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