Fresh food and fun: Farmers Market celebrates 10 years

HARLINGEN — Purple carrots, flowers and honey galore.

A refreshing breeze swept through the market Saturday as hundreds of people from both near and far shopped for eggs, cabbage, homemade jam and so much more. The turnout was a fitting way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Harlingen Farmer’s Market at 118 E. Tyler Ave.

“It’s awesome, absolutely humbling to have so much support,” said Mia Garza, vice president of Farmer’s Market.

“It’s great to see,” said Garza as she and another woman served chocolate and strawberry cake as a gesture of thanks.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and City Commissioner Victor Leal both spoke about the importance of the Farmer’s Market and the significance of its 10th anniversary. The original founders also addressed the crowd, much to Garza’s delight.

“We had a fabulous turnout,” she said. “We’ve given out about 300 pieces of cake, which means about 450 people have shown up.”

A man in faded jeans and grizzled beard filled a bag with fresh carrots, beets and kohlrabi. A woman with wallet in hand and a dollar bill in her fingers looked over a table where Civia Hernandez sold cabbages, carrots and fresh eggs.

“It was good, there were a lot of people that came to the market,” said Hernandez, whose family owns Nature’s Heartland in Edinburg.

So many people had purchased purple carrots that halfway through the market time she was already running short. Hernandez said the family business does not commercialize its produce, instead relying on such venues as Harlingen Farmer’s Market.

“It’s crucial,” she said. “That’s all we do.”

Customers, as usual, appreciated the opportunity for fresh produce and even craft goods.

“I always like the produce,” said Lisa Morrell, a recent arrival who had already dropped fresh bok choy and radishes in her bag.

“I think we are going to get some carrots and tomatoes,” she said.

She and her boyfriend Efrain Rodriguez were both enjoying a piece of strawberry cake.

“I like looking for handmade goods, like arts and crafts, wood stuffs,” Rodriguez said.

After 10 years, the Harlingen Farmer’s Market is still going strong, and Kate McSwain, manager, couldn’t be more happy.

“Every Saturday we have 300 to 500 people show up,” she said. “The main thing they come for is getting produce that was picked one to two days before,” she said. “And they buy from the same person who grew it.”

Several local chefs shop at the market for items of a quality they can’t find elsewhere.

“The salad mixes last so much longer and they know it doesn’t have chemicals or pesticides,” McSwain said.

Meanwhile, a group of women walked by with bundles of fresh flowers sold by a local vendor.