The Sustainable Food Center is a splendid group. It provides organic gardening news, classes, tips and options for volunteering in Central Texas.

Naturally, the group’s Farm to Plate benefit, which offers bites from numerous top chefs, is a crowd pleaser. Each year, it seems to grow like mushrooms after a summer rain.

It might have outgrown the Barr Mansion, the lovely old farmhouse on curvy Springdale Road.

The parking is way out of hand. Folks line the narrow country lane and then walk into traffic.

Once at the manse, the line for the food zone is long and, if it’s a rainy day, the tables are stuffed inside the farm’s events venue.

Wine is available, but who drinks before driving back down Springdale?

Even though the Austin social season is replete with such events, the food is outstanding. It comes in just the right tiny portions, accompanied by thoughtful comments.

And the message of sustainable gardening is not lost. Staff and volunteers are everywhere.

Despite its shortcomings for this size event, dreamy Barr Mansion mood is hard to beat at a warm-to-cool dusk.

I spoke for some time with accessible activist Celia Israel who is revving up a run for the State Legislature. Now that was a sustainable exchange.