The summer of 2014 has been gentle with the Brazos Valley so far. Most reporting stations haven’t even hit 100 degrees, and July is half over. Rain has been generous, too, relatively speaking. That means fruits and vegetables are still flourishing, and Brazos Valley consumers are the beneficiaries.
Area grocery stores and fruit markets frequently carry products from local growers, so freshly harvested goods are widely available. For those who prefer to purchase directly from growers, opportunities abound at roadside produce stands, especially along rural or farm-to-market roads. A few consumer cooperative groups specializing in produce purchases can be found around the Bryan-College Station area.
Just outside New Baden, Texas, the Rusty Sikes Vegetable and Fruit Farm on FM 1940 usually has a produce table loaded with recently harvested fruits and vegetables for customers. The offerings are delicious, coming from the adjacent well-tended fields. In June, Sikes Farm hosted over 70 visitors during the Vegetable Field Day sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife.
Another chance to buy from area growers comes from Boggy Creek Farm, with one farm in Travis County and another in Milam County. Boggy Creek Farm owner Larry Butler, who grew up in Gause, Texas, grows crops organically and offers them for sale through his Gause and Austin locations. To purchase from the Gause location, customers email requests to Butler and make arrangements to collect the produce as it’s harvested.
Community farmers markets provide an enjoyable and social way to meet area growers and purchase homegrown produce. The Brazos Valley Farmers Market opens Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the Brazos County Health Department in Bryan, Texas, and Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Village Foods grocery store in Bryan. The Navasota Farmers Market opens in the parking lot of The Filling Station Diner in Navasota Texas, every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
You can sometimes find produce available from the Howdy Farm at regional farmers markets. The Howdy Farm is a sustainable farm that was created by Texas A&M University students and is run by Aggie student volunteers, members from the Horticulture Department, A&M alumni, and others. You can usually catch workers at the Howdy Farm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings for a tour or to purchase produce.
There are lots of excellent reasons to buy local produce direct from area growers. From the economic benefits for the community, to the sociological benefits of supporting area producers, to flavor and nutritional benefits of just-off-the-stem taste, to environmental benefits of less packaging and resource use, to the fun of heading out on a homegrown adventure—whatever your reason for buying local produce, take advantage of the mild summer weather before the hot Texas sun scorches some of your favorite fruits and veggies. Now’s the time!