Two local farms, connected by a pig, a farmers market and this bargain-hunting shopper

I’ve been writing about my recent farmers market discoveries this week, and two vendors I met recently have a sweet connection I just found out about that illustrates how interconnected the local food community is.

Jenna Kelly-Landes, the cheesemaker and goat whisperer behind Bee Tree Farm, is the subject of an upcoming story I’m working on, and at last week’s market, I bought the most amazing halloumi from her. It wasn’t cheap — $11 for about half a pound — but after I went to the farm near Manor a few days later, I see the value in that product and not just the price.

Halloumi is a dense cheese that doesn’t melt when baked or fried, as in this dish of roasted squash and mushrooms, inspired by one from “The Savvy Cook.” Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In next week’s food section, I’ll have a whole story about cheeses like halloumi that don’t really melt when you cook them in a pan, on a grill or in the oven. Kelly-Landes is one of the only cheesemakers in Texas who is making halloumi, so if you are looking for a local option, she’s your farmer.

Halloumi is a dense cheese that doesn’t melt when baked or fried, as in this dish of roasted squash and mushrooms, inspired by one from “The Savvy Cook.” Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Just a few booths down from Kelly-Landes at last weekend’s market, I met the folks who run Blue Donkey Farm, a ranch in Rosanky south of Bastrop. They were in their third week at the market selling pork cuts, so I picked up some chops and bacon. The pork chops are awaiting a weekend grilling session, but the bacon we ate up this week.

Blue Donkey Farm is now selling pork at the SFC Farmers’ Market in Sunset Valley. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

When I posted a photo of it online, Kelly-Landes connected the dots between the two local food businesses: Blue Donkey got its first pigs from Bee Tree, which specializes in goats but has had cows, pigs and chickens over the years.

It’s a small tie, but when you’re shopping from local producers, it’s rewarding to find out about the ways that they support each other. That matters to bargain hunters like me. I don’t have a ton of wiggle room in my food budget, but I know that the money I spend on locally raised food matters a whole lot more to these farmers than the big scale producers who sell to the grocery stores. I can’t afford it all the time, but it’s nice to feel like I’m supporting the (already intertwined) local food economy.

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