Sustainable farm maintained in memory of late alumna

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Silas Parker, future tenant of Thigh High Gardens, displays eggs collected from the property’s chicken coop.

Tantra Coffeehouse is not only where the late Texas State alumna Stephanie Bledsoe made countless memories, but also where she enjoyed researching how to achieve her dream of embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle.

As she sat at a wooden picnic table outside the coffeehouse last year, Bledsoe typed away on her open laptop, conducting research for her sustainable farm Thigh High Gardens. She had recently moved to the 20-acre farm located off Lime Kiln Road and was adjusting to life without electricity.

When asked why she wanted to start a sustainable farm, Bledsoe’s blue eyes lit up and a smile slowly formed on her freckled face.

“It’s a lifestyle,” she said. “I eat, live and breathe my animals and my plants.”

Moving to the farm fulfilled a dream of Bledsoe’s, who, in an effort to inspire others, wrote in one of her last Facebook posts: “Do your fears have you down? Have you been letting them stop you from doing what you want and love? Drop them, it’s all in your head. It’s time to just do it. Do it… Do it now.”

It was at Thigh High Gardens where Bledsoe fell from her porch of her house on the farm last August, fracturing numerous facial and skull bones, according to online posts by her father, Gary. Bledsoe later lost vision in her left eye, and her jaw was broken on both sides. Bledsoe died Aug. 9 after undergoing hours of surgery and several blood transfusions.

Thigh High Gardens to be a work in progress, with the hopes of becoming an educational, model farm mirrored after Bledsoe’s original vision for the property.

Silas Parker, founder of the local brewery Dark Side Fermentation, has fond memories of Bledsoe and the 700-square-foot round structure known as a yurt that surrounds the porch at the farm. Parker remembered when Bledsoe endured the triple-digit heat last summer in the teal-colored yurt, which does not have air conditioning, with a wet rag she would put over her face to fall asleep.

The property has a solar-powered outdoor shower and a hot tub that can be filled with cold water for baths for temporary relief from the outdoor elements. Parker said the property runs on generators, but more solar panels are being installed. Future additions include a brewery for Parker’s Dark Side label.
“It’ll probably never stop growing,” Parker said.

Some of Bledsoe’s belongings still remain in the yurt and her ashes are kept in the property’s memorial garden. Bledsoe majored in horticulture at Texas State and was active in the university’s horticulture club, selling microgreens and plants at the on-campus farmers market. Bledsoe’s green thumb ran in her family—her grandmother owned a farmers market.

Parker said produce from the farm will eventually be sold on site. Eggs from the property’s chickens are already sold at local farmers markets.

The property has become a home for not only chickens, a peacock, cats and dogs, but for numerous San Marcos residents and soon Parker himself, who said he and his wife, local musician Grace Park, will be moving to the farm.

Bledsoe often sang with Parker’s wife, which he said strengthened their friendship.

“(Park and I) called (Bledsoe) our sister wife,” Parker said.

Parker and Texas State alumnus Zach Halfin are now working with Bledsoe’s brother, Robert, to continue the legacy of Thigh High Gardens. Community members are also keeping Bledsoe’s memory alive through volunteer efforts and the San Marcos Permaculture organization she started with Halfin.

Bledsoe’s brothers now own the property, Parker said.

“It’s not surprising that they’re super cool, considering how cool Steph was,” he said.