When friends recently offered to have me join them for a weekend at The Hyatt at Lost Pines, I jumped at that chance to check out this much lauded resort. Of course, it was also the perfect opportunity to explore the farmers markets in Bastrop.
About 30 miles from downtown Austin, Bastrop has a lovely Main Street area that most Austinites never see as we race past the town on Highway 71 coming or going from Houston. The revitalized downtown with its old Texas charm and the Colorado River weaving through the background hosts two farmers markets.
Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market, a year round market housed in a large barn at 1302 Chestnut St.
My favorite vendor was the Mina Elementary booth where some charming young gentleman and their teachers were selling the lettuce and spinach they had grown with their classmates. Max Butler, an art teacher at the school, started the garden and any class can participate. The kids plant the vegetables from seeds or transplants and help keep the garden watered and weeded.
The kids were also selling cute shopping bags they had painted and decorated with eco-friendly messages for the bargain price of $2. I had to add it to my collection of market bags and am looking forward to carrying a reminder of their hard work as I shop each week.
The River Valley Farmers Market, currently located next door but relocating to 116 Ponderosa Dr. and Hwy 71 on April 24th, is open from 10 am until they sell out. This Texas Certified Farmers Market, at least 51% of the vendors are growers or producers (like our Sustainable Food Center managed markets), has been serving Bastrop County for over 24 years and also hosts markets in Elgin on Tuesday (1 pm until sold out at 410 Main St. or 4 pm until sold out at 1212 Hwy 290) and Smithville on Thursday (1 pm until sold out at Main and 1st St.).
Again, the market has a nice variety of vendors with produce, eggs and even pecans from Yegua Creek Farms. Gene & Eileen Niswander, Eileen is President of the River Valley Farmers Market Board of Directors, bring pecans, baked goods, barbecue chips and even mulch from their pecan orchard to sell at market.
Steve Wachsmann from Manheim Market Gardens shared some of the challenges of selling in a largely rural community. Shoppers often tell him that they grow the vegetables he’s selling or get them from a neighbor. The vendors are passionate about their market and the community they serve and are looking forward to the upcoming market move and new opportunities for the farmers.