When it comes to fresh produce, it’s hard to beat the Southside Farmers Market.
Vendors including Vine Juice Co., No Bullsh*t Beef, Two Happy Healers, Terra Madre Mini Farm and others come together from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday to offer local organic produce.
Amanda Mathews, advertiser for the market and co-owner of Love is a Seed, and her husband have been with the market for five years. She said she feels privileged to be a part of this community.
“We reach out to the Southside and have a lot of locals and tourist come and check it out. What is great is that it’s held on Saturday mornings,” Mathews said. “When people are trying to figure out what to do with their day they can start at the market and get some vegetables for the weekend.”
The market started around 27 years ago, according to Mathews. Several community members were interested in offering locally grown produce within the Southside area. Leon Loeb of Landlord Resources and Jerry & Cora Chisholm of Chisholm Farms collaborated to become the founding members of the market. Landlord Resources offered space for the market to start. Chisholm Farms helped the market grow by getting Terra Madre Mini Farm and Rabbit Run Gardens involved and continued from there. The market is now managed by the SFM Association, which includes current vendors.
“We have an excellent relationship with our customers. I try to get to know as many as possible, find out their names and try to remember them and what they purchased,” said Gayle Sparks, co-founder of Rabbit Run Gardens. “Almost every week a customer will thank us for growing veggies and being at the market.”
Gayle started Rabbit Run Gardens with her husband, Buddy Sparks. According to Gayle they got involved with the market after Buddy took a master gardener course. Gayle likes to give customers tips and recipes on how to prepare the produce they’re purchasing, and follows up with them the next week to see if they enjoyed it.
‘A GREAT MOTIVATOR’
“It’s a great motivator and such a good feeling when the customers let you know how much they appreciate you growing fresh local produce,” Sparks said. “I think given the choice they would always choose local produce because they know when it came from.”
Mathews said when she started with the market five years ago she just thought it was cool to buy from local farmers who have skills she didn’t. After meeting the farmers she started to realize the real reasons their methods are so important. All the produce is chemical-free and no pesticides are used on any produce, and all vendors go though a farm inspection screening.
“We are very particular about our vendors and cherry pick them all,” Mathews said. “We are adamant about quality and making sure they have the chemical free farms they claim. They are legit when it comes to safe products for the community.”
Consumers not only have the option of purchasing organic produce, but also have the choice in a healthier meat option.
“The more I can teach about the health benefits and how to identify 100 percent grass-finished beef, the more people can make an educated decision,” said Bryan Horadam, owner of No Bullsh*t Beef. “My cattle are born, raised and finished on my grass on our property, and as a result of this anyone can visit my ranch and see the treatment and care I give my cattle.”
Horadam said he tells his customers to look for less fat content and deep red proteins as these are visual characteristics of grass-finished beef.
“Once you get my beef home and cook it, it speaks for itself,” Horadam said. “We came up with the name No Bullsh*t Beef because there are no hormones or grain in my cattle, and thus, No Bullsh*t Beef.”
Most of the vendors accept credit cards.
“If you have cash it’s good to have just in case,” Mathews said. “But typically speaking, everyone is using Square to accept cards or PayPal.”
The market also offers local flowers and jewelry.
“People can buy flowers at HEB or other local stores but most of these flowers are grown in California or Columbia and have a large carbon footprint,” said Dave Grise, owner of Oso Bay Farm. “If a person buys flowers from me at the Southside market, they are buying flowers that were grown four miles from the market and harvested on a Friday.”
Grise not only sells at the Southside market but also sells at the Downtown and Padre Island markets. He also has a local commercial account and sells at the South Padre island market every other Sunday from January to mid-March.
When it comes to differences between the Downtown Farmers Market and Southside Farmers Market, Mathews said it’s mainly the time frame. The Southside market is geared toward Saturday morning shoppers who can come in and get what they need in an easy location.
‘LIKE AN INTRICATE FAMILY’
“We have so many patrons that have been shopping with us for decades,” Mathews said. “It’s really like an intricate family, it’s really neat.
“We have a strong social media presence so people can find us on Instagram or Facebook,” Mathews said. “Not only are the vendors nourishing families physically, but they are key components in our community to teach us like elders. They teach people how grocery stores advertise and point out why local produce is healthier for you.”
The Southside Farmers Market is held every Saturday rain or shine at 5800 Everhart Road.