The air is starting to warm up, and Houstonians are out in droves on their bikes or out walking their dogs. They are taking their kids to parks and seeking out hidden gems throughout the city. This is the type of weather where you put the top down on your car if you have a convertible and find a restaurant to sit outside and enjoy the weather. This is also the type of weather that makes you crave fresh veggies and fruit straight from the trees and the earth, and because we happen to live in a community that is becoming more about sustainability, the Houston Farmers Markets are plentiful, no matter what part of town you live in. There are many choices of Farmers Markets to visit in every community, and today we are going to check out Houston Farmers Markets and the Texas Farmers that are bringing you the freshest and most seasonal farm to table produce because we believe in shopping locally.
Houston Farmers Markets
The city of Houston has an abundance of farmers markets that you can find, no matter which part of the city you live in. From midtown to Katy and Galveston, you will be able to find a Houston farmers market that offers its own flair. They commonly will have stalls set up that provide produce, meats, cheeses, soaps and other artisan products that will all be made by locally owned farms and small shops. The soap and candles will be hand poured and cured, and the cheeses will come from the goats on the farm. The eggs are fresh from the chickens and the meats from the livestock that are roaming their ranges. The vegetables and fruits come straight from the ground and the trees on the farm.
At some Houston farmers markets, there might be stands that have jewelry makers selling their homemade jewelry, handcrafted and beautiful, or desserts that were made with love in their own kitchen that are gluten free with no preservatives and all natural easy to pronounce ingredients. Some of the Houston farmers markets have activities for kids, music and games. Most are open weekly, some daily and others every other week. But, the one thing they all have in common is that they support the local Texas farmer and the local co-op growers and small artisan as well as bring the community together with their love of all things natural and fresh.
Houston Farmers Markets and Texas Farmers
It just so happens that the City Hall Farmers Market has their spring opening this weekend on February 24 at 11 am at 901 Bagby Street on the steps of City Hall. This Houston farmers market is supported by Urban Harvest. What makes it so special is not just all the locally produced vegetables, fruits, farm products, dairy products, prepared foods, cut flowers and plants, but that school groups, community gardeners, and backyard gardeners have the opportunity to sell their products and learn about market gardening with the Houston Regional Market Growers Co-op.
- Atkinson Farms is a 4th generation farm located in Spring, Texas. A family run farm, they grow a variety of over 60 different vegetables year round, including tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, mustard greens, watermelon, strawberries, and radishes, depending on the season. For a fun day, you can take a drive out to the farm during strawberry season and pick your own strawberries, but if you can’t do that, visit them at the City Hall Farmers Market.
The Farmers Market on Grand Parkway used to be known as The LaCenterra Farmers Market, but this Houston farmers market located out in Katy still supplies the freshest fruits, vegetables, and other goodies at The Church of the Holy Apostles every Saturday from 8 to noon. The pride of this farmers market is by staying close to their roots; they have developed a sense of community and given local vendors a place to come and sell their goods.
- Hibiscus Hill Farm & Ranch is 100% organic and natural farm and ranch that is owned by Richard Bost, who is co-founder of Urban Harvest. Hibiscus Hill is not just about sustainable farming, though, it is about education. They offer monthly farm tours with the option of taking a class at the same time. They are co-founders and supporters of the Waller country co-op, which provides organic, local backyard education and training, and they support their neighboring farmers to learn and change their farms into sustainable organic farms.
If you live in the Sugar Land area, head over to the Farmers Market at Imperial, located on Highway 90 on Brooks Street. This Houston farmers market is open every Saturday from 9 to 1 pm and offers not only the freshest-tasting produce but also one-a-kind arts and crafts, and interesting artisan finds as well as live music to keep your toes tapping while you shop around the open stalls.
- The Texas Olive Ranch is located just outside of Carrizo Springs and has 40,000 olive trees that are used to press their bottles of extra virgin olive oil. Texas Olive Ranch is committed to sustainability by using the tree trimmings as mulch and the leftover olive mash, which is fed to the ranch animals, naturally fertilizes the orchard. Their extra virgin olive oil is GMO-free, gluten-free, and the olive ranch is currently in the process of becoming certified organic. They welcome visitors to take a tour of the olive trees and sample the olive oils.
Heading over to the Tomball Farmers Market you will find about 60 vendors. This Houston farmers market was started by two women and thanks to the community has continued to grow every year. Located on the corner of Main St. and Walnut St. on the large, paved City of Tomball parking lot, they are open Saturdays from 9 – 1 pm. Tomball Farmers Market is a registered nonprofit and works as a cooperative effort of local families dedicated to providing the highest quality food and handmade products to their community, and they were created by farmers and are operated by farmers.
- McLeod’s Urban Farms is a specialty farm located in Tomball, Texas that produces high-quality naturally grown microgreens. Their farming operation is urban and requires less than 1,000 square feet, situated in an environmentally protected indoor facility and operates year round. Founded by Geoff Thimons in 2014, he has turned a hobby into a business and started selling his microgreens in 2015. The materials used in the production of their microgreens are always all natural, and their seeds are organically sourced and documented.
The Rice University Farmers Market is open every Tuesday, rain or shine, from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at entrance 13B off of Greenbriar Dr (5600 Greenbriar Dr, Houston, TX 77005), and parking is free. This Houston farmers market used to be located in the Heights but was invited on the Rice University campus in 2007, where it still resides today. The goal of the Rice University Farmers Market is to make locally grown food available to as many consumers as possible, and most of the food sold here is done so sustainably, maintaining all the nutritional benefits without the health and environmental costs of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
- Pine Valley Produce is a hydroponic farm that has a main greenhouse with over 11,000 square feet of growing area. The hydroponic system uses the Bato bucket system for vine crops and a nutrient film technique for lettuce and herbs. Pine Valley grows 2,800 tomato plants and has 80 cucumber vines. They also produce several different field crops when the weather and seasons permit, including corn, okra, purple hull peas, onions, and garlic, as well as Italian Large Leaf Basil along with bell peppers and several varieties of hot chili peppers including Jalapenos and Cayenne. They are pesticide free and organic.
Although this is just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) of Houston farmers markets and the Texas farmers who are selling their fabulous homegrown goodness there, we encourage you to take a visit, shop local and live sustainable and healthy lifestyles!