Victoria Farmers’ Market summer harvest offerings

VICTORIA, Texas – Victoria Farmers’ Market manager Meridith Byrd talks about what the summer harvest offerings there are at the market.

The following is a transcript:

Carolina Astrain: Hello, and thank you for joining us for Community Crossroads. I’m your host, Carolina Astrain. Here’s a look at what’s coming up this weekend’s show: Meridith Byrd with the Victoria Farmers’ Market joins us to talk about the summer harvest offerings. And we also learned some boating safety tips from Captain RJ Shelly with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office based in Calhoun County. We’ll also hear from Christy Youker with Keep Victoria Beautiful, a local nonprofit organization aimed at improving the quality of life and beauty in the City of Victoria. All right, Crossroads.  We’re welcoming Meredith Byrd with the Victoria Farmers’ Market, and she’s here to tell us about the summer harvest. Meridith. Welcome to the show.

Meridith Byrd: Good morning, Carolina.

Astrain: And so what can we expect? I’ve seen tomatoes, some cucumber, summer fruit or vegetable?

Byrd: Yep. So I’m, um, we’re getting into the heat of summer. And so we’re going to be looking at okra. Okra is one vegetable. It really flourishes during all this heat, um, peppers of all sorts of varieties, and we’re still getting some hangers-on from spring. We’ve still got some tomatoes, some cucumbers, um, squash, yellow squash, zucchini, even things like Pattypan squash, butternut squash, and it’s a melon season. So watermelons, cantaloupes, all those good, uh, summer fruits that you think of.

Astrain:  Wow. I don’t know about that many varieties of okra. That was a lot of okra you just…

Byrd: I’m talking about the different squash and such, but so yeah, we’re really excited to get into summer and start seeing the gorgeous watermelons coming in and, and cantaloupes. And, what else? As I said, bell peppers, hot peppers of every variety and, um, you know, then we’ve always got our, um, local honey, all sorts of pastured meats and eggs. And then all of our delicious homemade foods that people bring, you know, we’ll have things like cupcakes and cookies, banana bread, jellies, and jams pickles. That’s, that’s one of our most popular homemade foods is the different, um, pickles and even things like pickled okra and pickled carrots and pickled onions and all sorts of things.

Astrain: And how long do we have before the summer harvest transitions to fall?

Byrd: Well, you know, um, summer lasts so long here in South Texas. We won’t start getting our fall stuff in until October probably, which is it’s really nice because our fall is basically a second spring. When it comes to vegetables where we’ll get, you know, the second run of tomatoes and cucumbers all over again and which are some of our most popular, vegetables at the market. And then later on in the year, we’ll be able to get some of our colder weather, you know, salad, greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, some of the winter squashes, and things like that.

Astrain: And what’s so cool about your farmer’s market is that you also feature ranchers, so you can get to have absolute laters all year round. Yes.

Byrd: And our meat protein. Yes, absolutely. So we, we will have, we have turkey, we have chicken, we have beef and pork,  all of those cuts and, yeah, we’ve got nice protein options all year round. It’s not just fruits and vegetables.

Astrain: And how many vendors do y’all have on average during the summer months on average?

Byrd: We have, give or take about 15. It’s been a great year for our market. We’ve got lots of new vendors. We’re almost getting a new vendor joining every week. And so it keeps our average number of vendors at the market. This is the highest we’ve ever been. We’re, we’re running 15, 20 vendors each weekend, which is just fantastic.

Astrain: Do you think this is kind of an aftereffect? I know we’re in the pandemic still, but do you think people have kind of rallied and kind of gotten their DIY hats on and made a goal of being part of the farmers’ market?

Byrd: That’s a good question.  It certainly could be part, of what’s behind it. We do have, you know, lots of people bringing, um, their homemade foods, their jams and jellies, and pickles. And, and I know that a lot of people really got into that this past year, you know, trying to turn inward and figure out how you can make your own foods store your own food. And that could be part of what’s behind it, whatever it is. We’re so grateful because it’s great to see these new members because that’s what keeps our market growing and flourishing is, you know, being able to attract new farmers and ranchers and people who enjoy baking and making homemade foods and wanting to sell them with us.

Astrain: It was certainly the highlight of my year during the lockdown. Just being able to buy groceries in the open air, see friends. Yes. And so I’m so thankful for the farmers’ market and thankful to you for coming to Community Crossroads.

Byrd: Absolutely, we were grateful to be able to stay open during the pandemic being that we were outdoors. It was a safer place to be than being, you know, inside with recycled air and such. You know, we were being an open-air market. We did have that, um, feeling of safety and being able to space out, but still get your socializing in, come and meet your neighbors. Talk to the farmers that are growing your foods. It was, I was so happy that we were able to make it and flourish throughout the pandemic.

Astrain: Well, thank you Meredith for coming to Community Crossroads and I do want to remind everyone there are new hours for the farmers’ market. Now there’ll be open from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center. And so be sure to make it there each Saturday, you have area farmers and ranchers display their very best and all for sale all for you. I’m coming up on Community Crossroads. We’ll learn some boat safety tips from Captain RJ Shelley. Don’t go anywhere.