Saturday, March 31, 2012

Waco Downtown Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Quaintly-nestled within a small grove of shady oak trees along the SW bank of the Brazos river (at 400 South University Parks Drive in the old RV park by the old Fire Tower) is the new, burgeoning Waco Downtown Farmers Market!
Overlooking the picturesque Brazos River west of Interstate 35 and within walking distance of Baylor University, the market is easy to access, full of variety and sometimes offers entertainment.

This scenic riverside market is now open year-round every Saturday from 9:00am - 1:00pm, showcasing the best local agricultural producers and artisan vendors from within 150 miles of Waco!
With warmer months approaching, Farmers Market President Terry Vanderpool anticipates more patrons, as well as a greater selection of the earth’s bounty, more local art products and even open-air concerts.

It’s an eclectic blend of vendors and patrons, taking their time to stroll through a beautiful plot of land. No one seems rushed. Everyone has time to chat.

“When the weather is good, people can really spend several hours there,” he said. “It’s a community-safe environment where you can bring your children and look at the various booths and enjoy life.”

The market draws 500 to 2,000 patrons each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dozens of vendors rotate weekly, bringing different products to sell depending upon the season and previous sale successes.

“It’s going really well,” said Zacary Bryan, development coordinator for the Urban Gardening Coalition. “Even on the rainiest of days there have still been 500 people and many vendors.”

New vendors are arriving weekly, and inquiries about vendors happen all the time, said Vanderpool, a garlic grower from China Spring.

“Everyone seems to be happy with how the market is going,” he said. “There is nothing equivalent between Dallas and Austin that offers the same variety of meats and produce locally grown unless you travel pretty far.”

Typical products include: natural meats, dairy, poultry, eggs, veggies, flavored pecans, breads, honey, soaps, lotions, sarsaparilla, coffee, crepes, pizza, tacos, burritos, animal adoption, etc.
Ellis said he was delighted by the 15 or so growers and vendors who had come out despite the cold to sell fresh farm eggs, artisan breads, homemade goat soaps and organic meats.

In a time of lingering recession, this spot of 5 acres offers hope and opportunity to those with the desire to sell items they either grow or make by hand, supporters say. It’s an outdoor business incubator of sorts that inspires ingenuity, hard work and creativity.

Vendors pay $25 per day to operate a booth and an annual $50 fee. All agricultural products for sale must be grown within 150 miles of Waco. Only 20 percent of products for sale may be nonagricultural local products.

Organizers say the objective is to tout local goods and promote healthier products.

“We’re putting money into the local economy not only by bringing people downtown, but by supporting local producers and local farmers and that’s a win, win, win for Waco and McLennan County,” said McGowan
This is really a great way to spend a nice Saturday noon, supports local growers and is just a very refreshing break from the usual "artificial plastic" shopping/dining experience! Seriously. Enjoy some real food and real people for a change, folks...
When the Waco farmers market first opened Nov. 19 (2011)

vendors sold out and the public response was more than organizers had hoped for. Some growers had to return to their farms for more bounty, while patrons delighted with all the local, healthy options and didn’t seem to mind the delay at all.

The market’s early success is due in part to steady support from city and local business leaders who believe a thriving downtown farmers market adds to urban appeal. It’s a touch of the big city but with a friendlier, down-home Waco feel.

“Many people who come are in search of a more natural lifestyle,” Johnson added.

“If we all could eat more naturally, we’d all be healthier and it would be great for our world if we were all self-sustaining,”

“Creating activities for all of Waco in the downtown area is a priority for the city, especially when we can enhance the livability and add a venue of goods and services not previously available in town,” said Waco City Councilman Malcolm Duncan Jr.

“We tell lots of people about the Farmers Market. We want more people to come and be a part of it,” said Ellis, 29, of Ellis Isle Equities, which is developing the nearby Praetorian loft apartments at Sixth Street and Franklin Avenue.

The Waco Downtown Farmers Market helps add to the allure of downtown living, he said. “This is our chance to bring life and vibrancy back to downtown, so it has more of a city/community feel to it. We’re trying to do things to attract more businesses downtown.”

So, come on down & check it out, everybody!!! :D