Years ago my mom used to take my brother and me to the local farmers market in town. I remember the excitement of riding in the rickety basket being pushed by colorful fruits and vegetables as we loaded up an entire cart full of produce. We would buy enough fruit to overflow our fruit bowl at home, then stop by the plant section where my mom would pick out a few potted plants for gifts for her friends or to add variety to our backyard garden. While I enjoyed the trip to the market in general, my favorite part was the banana section. The manager of the market would hang out at the banana stand and pass out free bananas to me and my sisters every time we visited. This not only kept our little tummies full so my mother could finish her shopping in peace, it also made the market my favorite store for grocery shopping.
To this day, I still cherish visits to The Farm Patch. The store has a small-town feel and the people who work and manage it are friendly and lively and more than ready to help you with any request. The Farm Patch was opened in the early 1970’s by a local family who realized the Brazos Valley needed a place where local farmers could sell their produce to the community for a reasonable price. After opening, they quickly began servicing customers from over 100 miles away from their Bryan location. Imported foods such as olive oil, pastas, dressings, sauces, olives, and cheeses have found their way into the market as well. Seasonal products such as fresh crawfish, homegrown squash and Texas watermelons can also be found inside.
Local farmers’ markets are a special part of the Bryan, College Station area. Texas A&M University has made the area unique because for much of the year the town is doubled in size from the student population and crowds drawn in as a result of the university. This gives the town the feel of a larger city. However, during the summer and certain parts of the cities still feel like the small town that Bryan, College Station was several years ago. Remnants of this small town remain in certain subdivisions and areas like downtown Bryan and the historic part of College Station. Antique shops and rustic buildings add charm to the area. The local farmers’ markets are another facet that adds to the quaintness.
Other local markets include the Brazos Valley Farmers’ Market and the Texas A&M Meat Market. The Brazos Valley Farmers’ Market is a volunteer-based organization that receives no funding and exists to serve the community and link together farmers with consumers. The environment is charming and the products sold are not only those on a typical grocery list. Many vendors in the area gather to sell an assortment of jellies, specialized salsas, honey, jewelry and perfume as well. The prices of these small markets are unbeatable because the products come straight from the producers.
If fresh meat is an item on your shopping list, then the Texas A&M Meat Market should be one of your stops. The agricultural departments at A&M are anxious to sell the meat so they can continue buying more livestock to study. They sell a variety of meat at low prices. Local, grain fed beef, pork and sheep can be bought at the market as well as cheese wheels and fresh jerky. Gift boxes are also sold of beef jerky and cheese and are extremely popular.
Supporting local farmers is made extremely easy with these markets, and offers benefits to consumers as well. You are able to confidently know what is put into your food before you eat it and you can rest assured that it hasn’t been loaded up with preservatives. Being located in the heart of an agriculturally advanced area certainly has its perks when it comes to grocery shopping and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.