Headed to a farmers market this weekend? Here’s what you might find

Even in the Texas heat, the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller is jamming.

Last weekend, we were among the customers who tried to get there early enough to beat the heat to buy some groceries for the week. Like all the area farmers’ markets, this one has vendors selling everything from meat and seafood to knife sharpening.

Many of the prepared foods vendors offer samples, which is a big appeal for my young shoppers. Just like when we go grocery shopping at the regular store, the kids were with me to help decide what foods to get for the week, and this trip was no different.

Located next to the lake in Mueller Lake Park, the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller is doing pretty well this time of year, even in the heat. Dozens of vendors sell everything from kombucha and ginger beer to fresh produce, meat and seafood. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

RELATED: Looking for a market near you? Here’s a list of Austin-area farmers markets

Shade is a hot commodity at any farmers market in late July. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

We sampled and browsed the dozens of booths for about 45 minutes before it was time to seek cooler temperatures, but we had quite a haul. Here’s a look at the cool stuff we ended up taking home.

The San Antonio-based Mother Culture sells cultured yogurt. We got the maple pecan drinking yogurt. It cost $12, but the product was rich and almost dessert-like. We each got to pick out a treat, and this was mine. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
These Pao de Quejo (cheese bread) from Lua Brazil were a kid-favorite on our recent farmers market shopping trip. I bought a bag of the frozen pizza ones for $10. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Buddha’s Brew sits on many grocery store shelves across Austin, but it’s fun to drink a freshly poured one in flavors you sometimes can’t find in the store. We had the watermelon and strawberry lemonade ‘buchas. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Key lime pie is Murphy’s Mellows‘ bestselling marshmallow flavor, but the kids picked out one of the chocolate packages for $5. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
In both local grocery stores and farmers markets, Afia Foods sells these packages of Mediterranean foods, including kibbeh and falafel. Both boys like the kibbeh, so I bought a bag of 14 for $10. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

It’s safe to say we went on a sampling frenzy. I spent $50 on products I hadn’t tried before, as well as a couple of produce items and kombucha. It was a fun way to spend the morning with my kids and pick up some culinary treats at the same time. We didn’t have to buy so much stuff, but those vendors are working hard out there in the heat.

Plus they are making some really delicious stuff. I could have spent another $50 just on the way back to the car.

Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

 

Wednesday night farmers market returns, but this time at Mueller

Less than a year after the Sustainable Food Center closed its weekly Wednesday farmers market at the Triangle, the Texas Farmers’ Market announced that it will start a Wednesday evening market at Mueller next week.

The Texas Farmers Market at Mueller will now host a Wednesday evening farmers market from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Browning Hangar. Contributed by Texas Farmers’ Market.

“Due to high demand, Texas Farmers’ Market is expanding to provide a convenient opportunity for those who live, work and play in East Austin to purchase a wide selection of local fare,” the nonprofit said in a release. Starting on May 2, the market will be held on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. in Mueller’s Browning Hangar,

There are several neighborhood farmstands that operate during the day and during the week, but this will be the only weeknight farmers’ market in Austin. You’ll remember that Springdale Farm announced that it will close its Wednesday farmstand later this year.

The Texas Farmers Market hosts a Saturday market at Lakeline Mall, a Sunday market at Mueller and now a Wednesday evening market at Mueller. Contributed by Texas Farmers’ Market.

More than 40 local vendors will be at the new market, and many of them will be familiar to people who already shop the Sunday Mueller market, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the hangar. The market will also accept SNAP Lonestar dollars, and they have the SFC Double Dollars program, which effectively doubles the worth of the SNAP benefits that you spend at the market.

“Not only does the market carry a variety of unique homemade products for purchase, but the bounty of locally grown, seasonal fruits, vegetables, sustainably-raised meats and gulf sea food is constantly changing, so there is always something new to try,” said Kate Payne, executive director of the Texas Farmers’ Market. “We’re really looking forward to providing the community a mid-week opportunity to buy locally-grown food and providing them with a full farmers’ market experience.”

Texas Farmers’ Markets also hosts a Saturday farmers market at Lakeline Mall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can find out more about the organization at texasfarmersmarket.org.

Treasures you’ll find at new SoCo Select Market: CBD-infused honey, homemade slime

Strolling through a farmers market on a Saturday morning is a beloved weekend activity for many Austinites, and now we have another market to check out.

Since December, dozens of local artists and makers have been gathering from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays at 1511 S. Congress Ave. for the SoCo Select Farmers & Makers Market. They don’t have many farmers and food vendors yet, but Johnson’s Backyard Garden sells some produce there and Austin Orchards is scheduled to start coming on April 21 with their locally grown fruit.

In the meantime, you’ll find Fronks and OMG Squee, two local companies I’ve written about recently, as well as lots of creative jewelers, ceramists, paper craft, leather makers and even a couple of young entrepreneurs selling their homemade slime, which, as you know, is all the rage these days.

Several vendors also sell vintage clothing, but the most interesting product I found on a recent visit was Canna Bees Rescue Blend, a CBD-infused honey.  

The parent company that makes Canna Bees, Bee Delightful, is a Central Texas bee rescue organization that will soon collect its millionth bee. There are several similar organizations in the area, but what makes Bee Delightful stand out is that it’s the first CBD-infused honey from Texas on the market.

Here’s how it works: Bee Delightful removes unwanted bees for free from homes and businesses around Central Texas and then relocates them to hives where they can continue to produce honey. That’s when the cannabidiol, or CBD, comes in.

CBD is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by cannabis, but unlike THC, it doesn’t result in feeling “high.” According to Canna Bees: “These naturally occurring cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids, are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our endocannabinoid system. While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD is naturally occurring in industrial hemp and another familiar plant product, flax seed.”

From talking to several CBD vendors at the Wellness Expo at this year’s SXSW, I learned that CBD has always been legal, but only in the past few years have we seen consumer products and supplements more widely available. Millions of Americans now take CBD, sometimes by pill and other times through CBD tinctures, gummies or CBD-added products, like this honey. The CBD extracts used in Canna Bees come from domestic hemp farms, and the honey is unpasteurized.

Although there are few government-approved claims you can make about CBD, many people who take it claim that it helps with their arthritis and other forms of chronic pain, and researchers are studying its effects on people who have diseases, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and cancer.

Bee Delightful sells two kinds of Canna Bees honey: one with 250 milligrams of CBD and another with 500 milligrams ($50 and $80, respectively). In addition to buying the honey at the market, you can also find it at several local retail outlets, including Peoples Rx, Thom’s Market and Sunrise Mini Mart, and online at beedelightful.com.

 

Austin restaurants pay market fees for local farmers, ranchers amid chilly sales

The owners of Odd Duck and Barley Swine know that this time of year can be rough on local farmers and ranchers.

Farmers and ranchers at the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown and Sunset Valley didn’t have to pay booth fees in January, thanks to a donation from Odd Duck and Barley Swine. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Unlike many areas of the country where farmers markets shut down over the winter, our local markets operate year-round, but that doesn’t mean they are busy year-round.

That’s why, for the second year, the restaurants have paid the booth fees for all the farmers and ranchers at the Sustainable Food Center farmers’ markets downtown and in Sunset Valley. The donation of more than $4,500 paid the booth fees for 63 farmers and 49 ranchers for the month of January.

 

“We’re so appreciative of Odd Duck/Barley Swine’s support of the SFC Farmers’ Markets and vendors,” Joy Casnovsky, deputy director of SFC, said via email.  During this tough time of the year, not having to pay booth fees can be the difference between a farmer or rancher making a profit at a market or not.

RELATED: Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2018

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Bryce Gilmore is head chef and owner of Barley Swine at 6555 Burnet Road in North Austin.
RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Chef/owner Bryce Gilmore and his team have long been dedicated shoppers at the Austin-area farmers markets since he first opened a food truck in 2009.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to all the farmers for their hard work, especially when the challenges of the winter can result in less produce available to bring to the markets,” Gilmore said via email. “I figured it’d be nice for them to not worry about the booth fee when they have less to sell along with fewer customers shopping at the market.”

 

Are there too many farmers markets? 10-year market closing this month

Austin is losing a farmers market at the end of the month.

After 10 years of bringing local food to Austinites in one of the first mixed-use projects in the city, the SFC Farmers’ Market at the Triangle is closing Oct. 25, according to the Sustainable Food Center, the local nonprofit that runs two other markets in Sunset Valley and downtown.

RELATED: SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown will move back into Republic Square Park on Oct. 14

Read more about Central Texas farmers markets and agriculture

The SFC Farmers’ Market at the Triangle opened in 2010 and took place every Wednesday afternoon in the mixed-use building north of the University of Texas. 2010 photo by An Chih Cheng / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Joy Casnovsky, the deputy director of SFC, said it was a decision the staff made after many conversations with farmers and other vendors, who reported lower sales in recent years as the number of markets in the area expanded.

The farmers’ market at the Triangle featured more than a dozen vendors from all over Central Texas. 2007 photo by Kitty Crider / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

More markets means more options for customers — perhaps too many options (see below) — but it means more labor and time away from the farm for the farmers.

“Over the past decade, our Central Texas food community has seen amazing growth in the number of sales opportunities for our local producers, and we are so proud that our Triangle market helped to shape this growth,” Casnovsky wrote in a statement on the website. “Unfortunately, it appears now that this market location is no longer a viable option for our farmers, ranchers and food artisans.”

Regular patrons of the SFC Farmers’ Market at the Triangle gathered for playdates and weeknight picnics to enjoy the live music, fresh food and neighborly vibe. Leslie Pool is seen here with her pet cat, Jake. 2008 photo by Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The Triangle farmers market was the second market that SFC opened, just a few years after opening the downtown location. In 2010, SFC opened a third market in Sunset Valley, which is still open in the Burger Center parking lot, and the longtime market that had been operating in that space became Barton Creek Farmers Market and moved to Barton Creek Square Mall, where it now has a stunning view of the downtown skyline.

The nonprofit said that the proposed last day of the market is Oct. 25, so check the Facebook page for updates.

So, does this closure mean the local food economy is saturated?

Although the Triangle is a rare mid-week farmers’ market in the middle of the city, shoppers these days can choose from more than a dozen farmers’ markets in the Austin area, from the larger markets at Barton Creek Square Mall and Lakeline Mall on Saturdays and the Mueller development and Plaza Saltillo on Sundays, to weekend (and some weekday markets) in Bee Cave, Dripping Springs, Buda, San Marcos, Round Rock and Georgetown that have a small-town feel and a loyal customer base.

The markets in the outer areas of Austin seems to be doing well, even with the expansion of Trader Joe’s, Sprouts’ and Whole Foods’ new 365 store. The organizers of the Williamson County markets are teasing two new markets in Cedar Park, which is already home to Texas Farmers Market’s Lakeline market.

Are customers in the middle of Austin saturated with options? Is the Triangle too off-the-radar for newer Austinites? Are they getting local produce delivered by CSA? Are they hitting up the local farmstands at Boggy Creek, Springdale Farm and Green Gate Farm? Are they growing more food on their own or simply at traditional food stores instead?

My gut says that the mid-week market was too hard for customers to get to, especially as traffic in the city has worsened. There’s no way I can get to that Triangle market from my office downtown — much less my house even farther south — during that weekday afternoon window. But I also know that the farmers who kept the market going for so many years have to be smart about how they spend their time and how much they make at each market. On Facebook, several shoppers commented about the dwindling number of vendors at the market over the past few years.

What do you notice at local farmers markets these days? Are there too many markets or not enough? Did you go to the Triangle market? What will you miss about it?

Republic Square Park reopened, but SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown isn’t moving back in – yet

In May of 2016, Republic Square Park closed for renovations, and the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown had to move out of the park and into a closed-off section of a street next to the park.

The park finally reopened late this week, but the market isn’t moving back in just yet.

Republic Square reopened to the public the evening of Oct. 5, 2017, for the first time in over a year. Photo courtesy of Emily Smith

The Sustainable Food Center has been running the downtown market on Saturday mornings for more than a decade in this historic park west of Congress Avenue, but the dozens of farmers, ranchers and food artisans who sell each week haven’t been able to line the edges of the green space, including a lovely strip near the stunning new federal courthouse, like they always have.

The Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market Downtown had to move to accommodate recent renovations to Republic Square Park, but the market will be moving back into the park on Oct. 14. Rodolfo Gonzalez for the Austin American-Statesman

The city announced this week that Republic Square Park was officially reopen, but the Sustainable Food Center says it won’t be able to move the market back into the park because of the last-minute notice. This weekend’s market will have the same footprint that it has had since last year, but on Oct. 14, shoppers will find vendors set up in the newly renovated park. There won’t be an official reopening event until March, a rep with the nonprofit said.

SFC operates three weekly farmers markets, including one on Saturday mornings at Toney Burger Center in Sunset Valley and another on Wednesday afternoons at the Triangle in Central Austin, and they also host an array of cooking and gardening classes at their East Austin headquarters. Click here to find the schedule of upcoming events, as well as the locations of the organization’s community farmstands.

Austin farmers markets canceled this weekend ahead of Hurricane Harvey

Austin-area farmers markets are usually open rain or shine (and snow or freezing temperatures), but not this weekend.

Nearly all of the local farmers markets on both Saturday and Sunday have been canceled. That includes both of the SFC Farmers Markets (downtown and Sunset Valley), the Texas Farmers’ Markets at Lakeline and Mueller and the Barton Creek Farmers Market at Barton Creek Square mall.

PHOTOS: Texans share pictures of stockpiles, empty shelves ahead of Hurricane Harvey

The Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers’ Market Downtown will be closed this weekend because of the impending rain and high winds from Hurricane Harvey. Rodolfo Gonzalez for the Austin American-Statesman

The HOPE Farmers Market has not yet officially canceled its Sunday market, but you can keep an eye on their Facebook page for the latest updates.

MORE: The latest Hurricane Harvey news from the Austin American-Statesman

Keep these Central Texas farmers in your thoughts as these storms approach. Many of them have their fall crops in the ground, and the floods could devastate their fields. If you’d like to make a donation to the Farmer Emergency Fund, an outreach from the Texas Farmers’ Markets to help farmers recover from storms and medical emergencies.

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