Harlingen Farmers Market back in business

Customers purchase fresh produce from a vendor yesterday afternoon at the new location for the Harlingen Farmers Market. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the new, larger venue at 2nd Street and Tyler Avenue, next to Harlingen City Hall.

HARLINGEN — Pick out home-made delicacies fresh from the area’s budding cottage industry like jams, black garlic and kombucha — along with organic vegetables grown just miles away.

The Harlingen Farmers Market opens its 11th season Saturday featuring a wide variety of foods, crafts and fresh produce from across the Rio Grande Valley.

“In a limited space, you’ll find an incredible amount of products,” Kate McSwain, the market’s manager, said Thursday.

This year, the market features more than 20 vendors from across the Valley.

“It’s not all health food,” McSwain said. “But it’s all delicious.”

This season, vendors developing the local cottage industry will feature delights like their home-made breads, jams and kombucha — a lightly bubbly sweetened black or green tea.

The area’s growing cottage industry is leading some vendors to open their own shops.

“It’s created a wonderful variety of new entrepreneurs,” McSwain said. “I’ve seen so many people start their business at the market and go on to open their own store.”

Fresh from the farm, vendors will also feature locally sourced goat cheese, grass-fed beef and pork along with free-range chickens — and organic chicken eggs.

It’s not all home-grown food. The market also features hand-made soaps and lotions — even hand-crafted jewelry.

Since it opened in 2009, the market has built a growing family of customers.

“We’ve got a very loyal following,” McSwain said. “People are very much wanting the opportunity to access, in a safe way, locally grown food. Every day we have four or five people asking to join the market. We have a lot of people shopping for people with compromised immune systems.”

For years, customers have been coming from across the Valley to pick out the market’s prized produce.

“Our vegetables cost the same as they do at the grocery store but they’re picked a couple of days ago within 50 miles of here,” McSwain said. “What you buy, you’re buying from the person who grew it or made it.”

The market is still one of the most pet-friendly shopping venues in town.

“We’d never leave our dogs out so there are handcrafted dog biscuits,” McSwain stated in a press release.

This year, vendor’s tables, separated to comply with federal social distancing guidelines to control the spread of the coronavirus, will include hand-sanitizing stations.

The market, which will run from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Tyler Avenue and Second Street, is also requiring customers and vendors wear facial coverings.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com