Tea Time with Nile Valley Herbs!

Making A Difference, One Glass at a Time

Today I’m going to offer you a sweet deal. Get some delicious, yet healthy tea AND help save lives, all for just $6.50!  Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not. I’d like to introduce you to the groups that make it possible: Nile Valley Herbs and its sister nonprofit Mother Maryam.

The Background

Mr. Awad Abdelgadir, a former professor at St. Edwards University, moved from northern Sudan to the United States for graduate school. The beloved village he left behind lacked clean water, basic healthcare, and stable schools: a story all too commonly heard and forgotten about. As soon as Dr. Abdelgadir got his degree, he immediately went to work searching for ways to raise the standard of living back home. But changing lives doesn’t come cheap, so Dr. Abdelgadir searched for ways to raise money. He noticed that one particularly popular drink from Sudan was missing from cafes and grocery stores alike: Hibiscus tea. And wham bam a business was formed.

Nile Valley Herbs Hibiscus Tea started in supporting grocery stores like Whole Foods and Central Market, but now also includes independent sales and farmers’ markets. Every year a portion of the profits go to fund projects in Awad’s home in northern Sudan. Also, anytime anyone leaves money in Nile Valley’s tip jar, every cent goes to Nile Valley’s sister nonprofit: Mother Maryam.

Mother Maryam

Since founded by Dr. Abdelgadir in 2006, the Mother Maryam Foundation has changed the world and saved lives. And no, I am not being overly dramatic. One of the foundations’ largest completed missions is providing clean water. With help from various donors, Mother Maryam funded a well, pump, water tower, and distribution system, which serves hundreds of homes, the school, and clinic. In 2011, a health clinic was opened that primarily treats cases of malaria, as well as eye disease, dysentery, and pneumonia. These diseases are a huge problem in Northern Sudan, but are almost entirely preventable with basic technologies.

When talking with five-year Nile Valley employee and Mother Maryam board member Kyle Overby, he told me a story from his trip to Sudan: “There was a boy suffering from a severe asthma attack the very first week of our clinic being open. Without the clinic, it would have taken too long for him to get to any health facility. He would not be alive today.” So yeah, these guys are saving lives and making a difference. They are always finding new ways to contribute weather it be bringing computers to the village for the first time, installing solar panels to increase sustainability, or funding doctor’s salaries.

Of course, like all important things, Mother Maryam’s mission to raise the standard of living in Northern Sudan requires constant attention and finances. If you’d like  to be an awesome human being and make a donation to the Mother Maryam Foundation directly, please follow this link.

Hibiscus Heals

Switching gears a bit, I realize that I keep mentioning Hibiscus tea without any explanation. And if you’re a health nut newbie like myself, then you probably don’t know anything about Hibiscus. Well first of, Hibiscus is a flower and has been used to promote healthy living for centuries. All Nile Valley’s hibiscus leaves come straight from the banks of the Nile, organic and natural, so you know you are getting high quality stuff.  Some of the proven health benefits include:

-       lowering blood pressure (Dear god yes, stress is at an all time high!)

-       cooling the body down (Hello Texas heat remedy!)

-       lowering cholesterol (So that means I can have more pizza right?).

There’s really no downside to mention. Help your heart, your brain, and others while enjoying the refreshing taste of hibiscus tea. Nile Valley is a small company, trying to make a big difference and I think that’s pretty admirable.

So since I know you obviously want some tea now, check out the Nile Valley website here or just visit them every Sunday at the HOPE Farmer’s Market!

Website: http://nilevalleyherbs.com/

Facebook: Nile Valley Herbs




I’m Brooke, the author of the blog you’ve just read. Working with the HOPE Farmer’s Market has been so great, but unfortunately I will have to leave HOPE to finish my last semester at Baylor University this fall. I will graduate with a major in political science and a minor in poverty studies and social justice. Right now I’m applying to graduate school like crazy so hopefully I will be able to continue my studies. Every blog, I’ll let you guys know something a bit more interesting about myself and this week’s fact is:

I have two brothers each six years away in opposite directions.


Attention: Tamale Addicts!

Gardener’s Feast Tamales: Feed Your Tamale Addiction!

Gardener’s Feast Tamales are famous for being fresh, organic, local, and delicious! Since their first market in 2010, these tamales have managed to collect a following of Austin Tamale Addicts. Gardener’s Feast is now at ten area farmers markets and their tamales are also available in local coffee shops. Sounds like a successful story, right? What people don’t know about is the story behind this success.

In 2009, right in the middle of the financial crisis, Adrian Paredes found himself at a professional plateau as an industrial designer. Like so many others affected by the financial crash, ends weren’t meeting and Adrian knew he needed to move and find another job. He focused on saving enough to relocate his family to our lovely city: Austin, TX.  Once here, Adrian and his wife took a risk and began their first food service venture: Mexican desserts. In short, the business failed. It failed hard.

It is in this instance that many people would have called it quits. Instead, Adrian and his wife took it as a lesson learned and, rather than giving up, they adapted and started again. They realized that the infrastructure problem they had with making desserts did not apply to savory foods so they began a flauta business. It was going ok, so the Paredeses looked into selling flautas at farmer’s markets.

When telling me about his first meeting with a market director, Adrian admitted, “I didn’t know anything. I mean, I didn’t know the difference between vegetarian and vegan. I didn’t know what local meant.” Again, Adrian rose to the task before him: going organic and local. Adrian said it was “Very difficult, but a positive change. It started as just a standard, but now we are all fully invested in the local cause.”

As Adrian was showing off his new market setup with the flautas, the market director casually asked if they could also make tamales. That was the beginning of the Tamale Addiction! Over the next four weeks Adrian and his wife called every family member they knew to collect recipes, tips, and tricks about making tamales. They worked all week to prepare 80 tamales for their first market. Those tamales were sold out within an hour. Adrian had found the magic! They went from producing 80 tamales a week to nearly 1500 a day!

Adrian says he has big plans for Gardner’s Feast’s a.k.a. Tamale Addiction’s future. He feels a responsibility to keep making his product better and better. “It’s encouraging to have that immediate response from people… I just love that. It feels good to see a bright future for your business.”

No one deserves success more in my mind. This family hasn’t given up. They took each failure and each criticism as an opportunity to do better. What I love most about Adrian’s story is that it really demonstrates how hard-work, perseverance, and a little creativity can change a life around. Despite what the local news seems to indicate, there are still lots of good stories out there. This is definitely one of them.

So next Sunday when you come by the HOPE Farmer’s Market, be sure to check out these tasty tamales. Or if you’d like to order some for emergencies – in the case of the Armageddon, a surprise in-law visit, or bad break-up – check out their website at http://www.thegardenersfeast.com/tamales.

Facebook: The Gardener’s Feast

Twitter: gardenersfeast




I’m Brooke, the author of the blog you’ve just read. Working with the HOPE Farmer’s Market has been so great, but unfortunately I will have to leave HOPE to finish my last semester at Baylor University this fall. I will graduate with a major in political science and a minor in poverty studies and social justice. Right now I’m applying to graduate school like crazy so hopefully I will be able to continue my studies. Every blog, I’ll let you guys know something a bit more interesting about myself and this week’s fact is:

I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland for 5 months.



Meet Curious Confections!

English Heart. New Orleans Soul. Austin Flavor.

Meet Gemma and Michael Matherne – the cake-baking, sprinkle-spreading, marshmallow-whipping, dessert duo that is Curious Confections!

Michael grew up in New Orleans. He moved to Austin in 2005 after hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc on his home city. Michael’s past experience with visual special effects makes him a mad cake scientist when it comes to decorating. Gemma, the ever-so-English native, moved to Austin in 2008 to finish her culinary degree. Of course, her boyfriend and soon to be husband Michael may have had a little something to do with the move as well! We owe cupid a big one for bringing these two sugar magicians together!

Curious Confections gives us something unique: the artistry of European pastries mixed with the infinitely weird creativity of Austin. From traditional English fruitcake to homemade marshmallows, it seems impossible to find something Mike and Gemma can’t make. For example, they once created a live-size zombie bust cake, complete with green velvet filling and a vanilla-cherry blood brain to smash in!

Not only does their unique European-style of baking set Curious Confections apart from other bakeries, but also these two are genuine, awesome people. They truly want to make other people happy and, let me tell you, not many things can put a smile on your face like these pieces of sugary delight can. Every single item is fresh, made by them, and personalized to your specific order. From Curious Confections themselves: “People deserve better treats and we want to give it to them!” How could you not support such a valiant cause?

So if you haven’t picked up on my recommendation yet, I think you should definitely check these guys out at the HOPE Farmer’s Market every Sunday!


Website: www.curiousconfections.com

Instagram: curiousconfections

Facebook: Curious Confections

Twitter: curconfections




I’m Brooke, the author of the blog you’ve just read. Working with the HOPE Farmer’s Market has been so great, but unfortunately I will have to leave HOPE to finish my last semester at Baylor University this fall. I will graduate with a major in political science and a minor in poverty studies and social justice. Right now I’m applying to graduate school like crazy so hopefully I will be able to continue my studies. Every blog, I’ll let you guys know something a bit more interesting about myself and this week’s fact is:

I’ve been to Alaska eight times in my life!

First Annual Mexico Day, Recap!

For the first time ever, the HOPE Farmers Market formally highlighted Austin’s sister-city connection with Saltillo, Mexico!

On May 5, we hosted this first-ever “Mexico Day” celebration, in conjunction with the Austin Sister-Cities program to acknowledge the international relationship at the place that best exemplifies it all–Plaza Saltillo! Upon its beginnings, the Plaza was actually inaugurated by a visiting delegation from Saltillo, Mexico, for which it was named. The City of Saltillo even donated the ornate traditional Saltillo benches you see at the Plaza every Sunday!

To contribute to this special day, we hosted 3 vendors from both Saltillo & Monterrey that showcased products like jams, candies, nut butters & sauces, thus connecting with food artisans in cities just 6 hours away! As we’ve mentioned before here on our blog, we aim to support our regional food system, which doesn’t necessarily end at 50 miles, 100 miles, or even at the border. We also hosted an incredible 9-person choir from Saltillo, who sang in traditional Mexican dress, and was accompanied by local Mariachi band, Mariachi Los Toros. How fitting for the day before Cinco de Mayo!

We can’t wait for another chance to host these fantastic vendors, artists & musicians again and hope that by doing so, we can all encourage everyone to look beyond borders and further this sister-city relationship. Stay tuned for more…

And for highlights of Mexico Day, be sure to take a peak at our Photo Recap here!



We’re on the Road!

We’ve got news. The Mobile Farm Stand is getting its finishing touches this week & is ready for its debut!

Although we still have a few things to figure out along the way like weekly routes, sourcing and what kind of wind chime to attach (seriously!), we got an invitation we couldn’t pass up so we’re taking it out on the road tomorrow! Find us popped-up at Kealing Middle School’s Spring Picnic this Saturday, May 13 and see the Mobile Farm Stand for yourself among the Picnic’s potluck, chef demos & community quilt. We’ll be there from 10am-3pm so come say hello! Find Kealing Middle School at 1607 Pennsylvania Drive.

And if you’d like more background on why we started the project and how it got built, be sure to check this great article, “HOPE Rolls Out Bike-Powered Farm Stand” by the Austin Chronicle.

CONTACT: Have interest in hosting the stand or a recurring pop-up market? Talk to us: mobilefarmstand@hopefarmersmarket.org 

Today’s The Day!

We’ve all been waiting for this day.

Starting at 6pm tonight, we’re officially taking donating to fund our Mobile Farm Stand! We’ll have just 24 hours to make it happen, so every little bit helps. Here’s how:

1) Give

Donate to HOPE FM!

Click HERE to land on our donation page. Any amount is a huge help towards funding our Mobile Farm Stand. Your donation is also tax-deductible & just feels really good!

2) Brag

Spread the word!

Tell em all how you supported us. Find @hopemarketatx to include us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

3) Celebrate!

Happy Hour on us!

Join us this Friday at Center 61, from 4pm-6pm, for for free beer, food and lots of great company with the folks behind 20+ local nonprofits. Help us ring in our donations these last 2 hours of Amplify Austin!

SXSW: Listen Local

It’s a big week ahead. Eager tourists will be marching through the streets, live music will be traveling through every city block and you will most likely find yourself waiting in line, in traffic or just waiting for the week to end.

Regardless of how you take this week we trust you’re going to need a chance to relax, which is why we’re hosting a special Sunday Southby Showcase. It’ll be a day of grabbing brunch, watching tourists leave and relaxing to the sounds of great local music.


 We’ll have 3 sweet sets and invite you, your friends & your family to our special FREE showcase:

11am: The Parish Festival (Austin band! mix of folk, jazz & bluegrass)

12pm: DJ Chino Casino (Austin DJ! all sorts of throwback tunes)

2pm: Mother Falcon (Austin band! instrumental collective magic)


Our HOPE FM Vendors will be present as always, giving you the chance to support local during the ever-increasing invasion of SXSW. Stay tuned for market news, updates & photos on our pages via Facebook, Instagram & Twitter!

Find us everywhere: @hopemarketatx + #hopefarmersmarket

Time to Mobilize: Amplify HOPE FM!

Few times in the year do we round up our market fans, followers & supporters. But spring has sprung and it’s time to Amplify!

This month, we’ll again be participating in Austin’s largest nonprofit fundraising program: Amplify Austin. Acting as a 24-hour “festival of giving”, the program challenges the community to donate to their favorite non-profits, providing the chance for Austinites to give together. Last year, over 300 local nonprofits felt Austin’s giving power when $2.8 million dollars was collectively raised!

Lets see what we can do this year, together. We encourage you to read up about our funding goals on our donation page and stay tuned for our updates on HOPE FM projects that need your support.

Whatever the reason, we hope you’ll consider choosing HOPE Farmers Market! Here’s a few ways you can help us get started:

  • Schedule a donation. This year you can  support us early & secure your donation ahead! Simple & sure.
  • Mark your calendar. Join us for a donation celebration on March 21! Hosted by Center 61 with free drinks.
  • Spread the news. Share our page with friends & family. Every little bit helps & is appreciated, big-time!

24 hours of giving is just around the corner!

 So find our Amplify Page and get ready.