Note from the Market Manager: Supporting Texas Farmers

HOPE Farmers Market’s mission is elevating regional foodways through creative collaboration, urban placemaking and innovative community programming in East Austin.

HOPE Farmers Market brings together the best that Austin has to offer when it comes to food, music and art. We work 7 days a week to plan and promote a weekly market that allows vendors and customers to come together in a beautiful space and celebrate the bounty of our region. More than just a market, HOPE FM is a cultural event that celebrates Austin’s creativity and diversity. We want to give y’all a peak behind the curtain to see the policies and processes we have in place to ensure that the market is as delicious, diverse and accessible as possible!

The Update:

As of June 2013, we have instituted a new process for established farm and ranch vendors to apply to transparently resell limited amounts of agricultural products from partner farms in order to support regional agriculture and increase access for Austinites. This policy has been in effect at HOPE FM for years, but this new process will help ensure that you, the consumer, know that by shopping at HOPE FM you are supporting vendors and a community that want to provide the best Texas products to everyone in Austin.

What HOPE FM does NOT allow: Dishonest Reselling

Dishonest reselling of product not raised or grown by member farmers has never been allowed. All of our farms have been inspected and will continue to be on a yearly basis to make sure products they bring to market are produced responsibly by them on their own land. If a product’s origin is suspicious, one of our managers will conduct an additional inspection along with another established farmer and, if it is found they aren’t producing something they’ve been selling, they will be ejected.

What HOPE FM does allow: Transparent Reselling

An established HOPE FM Member Farmer or Rancher, who has been part of the market for one year or more, who would like to source a new product from a Partner Farm may apply to the market manager, in writing, with the following:

  • Type of product and production methods. The product cannot already be available at HOPE FM.
  • A complete application from Partner Farm to join the HOPE FM association.
  • Plans to communicate and clearly label the origin of the partner farm’s product.

The market manager will review the application, interview the partner farm or ranch and solicit feedback from the vendor advisory board prior to approval or denial.

Why?

  • Supporting Our Regional Food System: We’re all about supporting our local food shed and that doesn’t necessarily end at 50 or even 100 miles. We believe strongly in promoting the regional system which allows the market to support as many producers as possible.
  • This is Texas: We’re not in a region where you spit a seed on the ground and expect something to grow. Farming in Texas is hard and our farmers do a lot to get their product to market. From flash floods, droughts, freezes and hail, our farmers are agricultural heroes and we want to give them the best market possible. Having a variety of products encourages more customers and more customers means sales for everybody. We aren’t going to allow a West Texas hot-house cucumber farmer to join when our farmers do such a great job growing great cukes right here! But if one of our farmers looses their a specialty crop, like strawberries, to hail then we would consider allowing them to source regionally. Transparent Reselling allows our organization and farmers to be nimble in order to continue providing access to good food to everybody who wants it.
  • Location, location, location: Every thing is bigger in Texas and that includes the road to market. Not every rancher can make the trip to an urban area to sell directly to consumers each week. We hope that by allowing farmers to work together they can combine resources and support each other to make a stronger, more resilient food system.
  • Supporting Our Community: While HOPE FM is a funky mixture of food, music and art at the end of the day we are a Farmers MarketThe more high quality farm fresh products from Texas farms we can offer, the better. Innovative programs and policies allow us to reach populations that have been historically under-served by traditional farmers markets. From music programming to product offerings, we want to have something for everybody!

What does that mean for HOPE FM?

Goat: Ty Wolosin of Windy Hill Farm is a farmer and educator. He works tirelessly to get locally grown food, especially goat meat, into more home and restaurant kitchens around Texas. Goat is hands down the most sustainable meat produced in Texas’ climate… it’s also lean and delicious! In order to meet demand he has a cooperative relationship with other farmers like Hilltop Place Ranch. In Ty’s own words:

“The main idea behind working with Hilltop was to spur more “little” producers in rural areas to produce quality product for the Texas consumer. For instance, someone in West Texas like Hilltop, who raises great, happy goats, can not afford to drive to a highly populated area to sell their product and alone they can not raise enough nor consistently deliver to the chefs to keep the chefs happy. So what should these rural producers do? Just sell their herd, give up the ranch, sell to the auction where the goats go to who knows where (ie dog food, East Coast halal market, etc)? Together we can increase the product getting to the consumer. This is why cooperatives have been in existence since the beginning of farming and ranching.”

To join the Windy Hill Farm Cooperative, farmers like Hilltop Place must sign a contract that spells out the standards for raising goats and each package of meat is labeled according to the farm it came from.

Oranges & Grapefruit: During the cooler months Johnsons Backyard Garden brings delicious Certified Organic citrus from G & S Groves out of McAllen, Texas. The Rio Grande Valley, at the Texas – Mexico border, is some of the best citrus agricultural land in the country but it is a long commute for a farmer coming to Austin to sell fruit. Until we can find a citrus farm able to join HOPE FM we will allow JBG to continue to fill this niche. We love seeing Texas grown grapefruit and oranges in those big, bright G & S bags going home to become juice, marmalade, healthy snacks and breakfasts!

HOPE Farm Stand: The HOPE Farm Stand, which sources small amounts of produce from inspected small farms, community and home gardens was created to supplement market offerings when our farmers were facing the devastating 2011 drought. We have worked with urban and rural farms who don’t have the time, resources or product to set up a full booth at the market but don’t want their product going to waste. Currently it is one of the best sources in all of Austin for hyper-local farmed and foraged specialty produce! The photo below (from May 19th) is of HOPE Farm Stand offerings sourced entirely from the East Side, mostly from Festival Beach Community Garden. In the last year at the HOPE Farm Stand we’ve had grapefruit, artichokes, asparagus, meyer lemons, loquats, plums, nopales, figs, peaches, squash flowers, herbs, panhandle apples, valley avocados, crazy squashes and more! These were all transparently resold to offer variety to our customers and to support farmers and great organizations like Urban Patchwork, Urban Roots and Festival Beach Community Garden who regularly contribute.


We hope this peek into HOPE’s behind-the-scenes policies helps to illustrate how and why we are able to offer such a wide range of products. We aim to make our market as unique, affordable and sustainable as possible. HOPE FM is more than just a market, it’s a family, and we look forward to spending Sundays with you at Plaza Saltillo!

See you Sunday!

Alexa Senter
Market Director