Farming

Local farmers market offers fresh produce, other items

In most urban areas, it’s difficult to purchase affordable or good-quality fresh food. Many people live in food deserts where they have plenty of food but not plenty of healthy food.

There is a place where residents from Beaumont and the surrounding areas can come to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, along with other items. A trip to the Beaumont Farmers Market may very well be worth your while.

The market is open each Saturday from 8-11 am, rain or shine, from mid-January to mid-December, at 6525 College St., under a covered pavilion at the Beaumont Municipal Athletic Complex.

For 13 years, the Beaumont Farmers Market has been a place to meet and support local farmers and artisans within a 150-mile radius. The market is a producer-only market, meaning all the produce a farmer or vendor sells has been grown or made on their property.

Becki Stedman, co-founder of the Beaumont Farmers Market, said their goal is to provide Southeast Texans with an open-air market that allows them to shop for fresh, regionally grown produce.

It’s also a place to educate consumers about local farming and seasonality of production, assist new businesses that sell food and farm-related products, and foster stewardship of land and community through public markets.

During a recent visit, more than 20 vendors set up tables displaying a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and meats, and other products.

Stedman said there were about 600 people coming through the market during the first two hours.

“This is really a busy time for us,” she said. “We are seeing between 800 and 1,000 customers each Saturday.”

As you entered the pavilion, OzCafe had coffee available for the market’s visitors.

Bill Taylor, of Taylor Farms from Kirbyville, had a stream of customers pouring over his three tables loaded down with watermelons, cantaloupes and other fresh produce.

Sheri Anderson, of Sherie Garden from Huffman, displayed jars of pickles, pasta sauce, okra, chow-chow, relish and salsa made from fresh ingredients.

William Cassell of Shady Acres Dairy, along with his family, had cold, fresh milk available.

Two vendors – Wild Earth Texas and Lone Star Sustainable Farm –were selling beef, pork and chicken, while other vendors had a variety of food products including baked goods, honey, seasonings, eggs, pies, BBQ sauce, coffee and milk.

Several artisans had their homemade soaps and pottery for sale.

On May 23, the Beaumont Farmers Market began accepting EBT cards, implementing a SNAP program as an opportunity to provide goods to all those within the area.

Stedman said opening the market to a larger demographic brings a positive change and increases healthy food access for everyone in Southeast Texas.

“The opportunity to include those in the area who utilize SNAP within the market is something that we have been looking forward to for a long time,” stated Stedman. “We are excited to provide these families with local produce.”

SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program. It provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an EBT card, which can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.

Stedman noted the market will celebrate National Farmers Market Week (Aug. 7-13) on two Saturdays — Aug. 6 and 13.

“We’ll be adding some fun extras and unique treats to commemorate the week,” she said.

“We are excited to be participating in National Farmers Market Week and highlighting our local farmers and vendors,” said Stedman. “We will have kids’ activities, Kona Ice shaved ice, and interactive opportunities while you shop with us.”

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