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Learning Local: Farmers Markets

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While learning to navigate the local food community, I have found that Farmers Markets are a great resource. You may be thinking, well duh, but when you take a closer look Farmers Markets can teach you more than you might have initially thought.

Farmers markets in essence are markets full of farmers. You want to learn about local food? This is your mecca. Vendors and farmers are knowledgeable, well connected in the food community, and friendly. At first, farmers seemed like a wise and untouchable breed, I was maybe even a little intimidated. How do you even cook kohlrabi?  Do they think I’m stupid because I have no idea what that cute little squash is? Farmers get up at the crack of dawn to haul fresh produce and goods to you. They farm because they love it and want to share their local seasonal produce with you. Use them as a resource! Ask questions, they won’t bite.

Learn the food seasons. Farmers markets are a great way to learn what grow when.  Spoiler alert, most fruits and vegetables grow best in one particular season. The produce at Farmers Markets directly reflect what is coming out of the farms at that time. You don’t get everything all the time when you buy local seasonal food, but it makes you appreciate the food more. It has helped me gain an appreciation for the natural cycle.

Now I am no stranger to HEB, I have circled the produce bins a time of two. But let me warn you, once you start going to Farmers Markets it changes the grocery store forever.  It is hard to describe how much of an impact it can have when you connect with your food source. Forming a relationship with your food and the people that grow it is a powerful thing. It isn’t just shopping anymore it becomes almost an experience. Have you connected with a local Farmers Market yet? Check out this Farmers Market guide from Edible Austin and start exploring.

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Sustainable Food Center moves into their new home

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The first time I met the folks at the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) their office was in a small trailer off of East Cesar Chavez and the Downtown Austin Farmers Market had just started.  Almost a decade later, SFC is an integral part of building a healthy, sustainable food community in Central Texas and they finally have a home that will help them fulfill their mission.

SFC is hosting a day-long series of festivities on Tuesday, September 24th to celebrate their new home and show off their new teaching kitchen, community spaces and more.  I can’t wait to see their new offices and visit the SFC Farmers Market East.

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photo courtesy of the Sustainable Food Center

Of course, a dream house like this doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work and support from the community, and SFC needs our help to close the final gap on their capital campaign.  St. David’s Foundation has offered a challenge grant to help raise the last $300,000 and will provide matching funds for money raised from the community.  People who donate between now and the end of September will be part of a special Key Holder group, receiving an invitation to a special celebration as well as name recognition on a plague at the facility and on the website. Donations of all sizes are welcome and can be made online.

Congratulations to SFC on their continued growth! Let’s show them some love for the invaluable work they do in our community by making key holder donations today.

 

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Lone Star Farmers Market

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Tucked in the midst of the Shops at the Galleria at Bee Caves you find the Lone Star Farmers Market, Sundays 10am-2pm.  With an intimate and friendly vibe and something for everyone, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle a bustling shopping center.

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Show up hungry and grab some breakfast goodies.  Maudie’s breakfast tacos, and Stouthaus Coffee will get you geared up for an afternoon of market wandering.  Their cold brew coffee will get us all through the hot summer months. Make sure to come early if you want to snatch some of Baguette et Chocolat delicious fresh baked bread and pasteries, they tend to sell out fast.

There is plenty of produce to fill your fridge for the week.  Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Richardson Farms and Engel Farms are a few of the vendors dishing out the best of summer fruits and vegetables.  Tomato season is here!

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I O Ranch Lamb is the exclusive lamb vendors at Lone Star Farmers Market. Their lamb is raised in Lampasas County, Texas on their family farm.  All natural and 100% grass fed so make sure to stop by and visit Jeff at their tent.

Gourmet Texas Pasta does simple and flavorful pasta. Made with real vegetables and herbs, like spinach basil & garlic, their pasta is delicious and they usually offer samples!

The Lone Star Farmers Market has live music every week and hula-hooping for the kids! Check their website for more information about the music act for each week and a full list of vendors.  Their Facebook page is also a great resource of what to expect at the upcoming market!

 

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SFC Downtown Market Turns 10

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20130518-095858.jpgWow! It’s been 10 years. The Sustainable Food Center opened their downtown Austin market in Republic Square in 2003 and now has grown to be one of the premiere markets in the state and one of four markets that they run. I wasn’t at the market the first day it opened, but I made my way there not long after that.

I have learned so much over the years by shopping at, and writing about, the market and have made incredible friends with vendors, farmers and fellow shoppers. I’ve discovered foods I’d never heard of before (remember the kohlrabi?) and been challenged to rethink how I approach cooking. We’re fortunate to have a place where we can explore, share and celebrate right in the heart of our city.

Thanks SFC and here’s to decades more memories, learning and delicious food!
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