About Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas
Why buy local?
Here in Central Texas, many of us have abundant options when it comes to putting food on our tables. Making the choice to buy food from local producers, farmers and ranchers, however, greatly benefits our health; it’s not only some of the freshest food available, but knowing how that food was grown or produced safeguards us from the overconsumption of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other substances that could be toxic to our health. Of course, buying local also strengthens local economies by supporting small, local agriculture-based businesses, and it reduces our environmental impact because our food doesn’t have to travel far to get to our table. Finally, buying local helps us preserve our cultural traditions by using ingredients grown and produced right here at home.
Why shop at a farmers’ market, farm stand or subscribe to a CSA that’s a member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas?
When a farmers’ market, farm stand or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm is designated as a member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas, it means that these agriculture-based businesses are producing fresh, healthy food within 150 miles of Austin, Texas (defined as Central Texas) and selling it directly to consumers. The Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas chapter designation also stands for integrity in business practices and a commitment to sustainability and the environment. Essentially, it’s a seal of approval that what you’re buying is sourced from—and grown responsibly by—local farms and ranches.
Where can I find Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas chapter members?
Central Texas is home to dozens of farmers’ markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and individual farms that are members of Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas. You can find a list and a map of members on this website on the Farmers’ Markets, CSAs, Farm Stands and Farmers pages. You can also look for the Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas signs at farmers’ markets and farm stands near you.
About Community Supported Agriculture Programs
What is a CSA and how does it work?
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and in the simplest terms, it is a way to forge a partnership between local farms and consumers. Consumers buy a “share” of a local farm’s seasonal harvest in exchange for weekly or bimonthly boxes or baskets of what the farm is currently producing in season. Subscribers usually pick up their shares at a specified location, although home delivery is available from some CSA programs. Some CSA programs offer only fruits and vegetables, while others offer other products such as dairy products, meat, eggs, baked goods, honey, flowers, etc. To be designated a Buy Fresh Buy Local CSA program, the majority of what’s included in your share must come directly from the farm.
While each CSA program in Central Texas operates slightly differently, they are all committed to establishing a direct connection between farmers and the food we eat. You can find a list and map of Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas CSAs here.
About Farmers’ Markets
What kinds of products can I find at a farmers’ market?
While every farmers’ market is unique in terms of its vendors, products and variety, chances are that if you shop at a Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas farmers’ market, you’ll find a wide variety of locally grown, raised and produced food. This will include seasonal, just-harvested fruits and vegetables; locally raised meat such as beef, chicken, lamb and pork, as well as locally caught fish and seafood; farm-fresh eggs, cheese and other dairy products; and locally harvested nuts and honey. Many vendors also offer grocery items made from local products, such as preserves and jams, pickles, salsas, olive oils and soaps; and ready-to-eat items, such as baked goods, hot meals with local ingredients, and a variety of beverages. Visit the Farmers’ Markets page on this website to find a market near you; many have a list of vendors on their websites. You can also consult What’s in Season for examples of some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables available now to Central Texans.
What forms of payment are accepted at farmers’ markets?
While some of the larger farmers’ markets in Central Texas have an ATM machine on-site or somewhere nearby where you can use a debit card to get cash, it’s best to bring cash with you, and your farmers and vendors will thank you if you bring it in small bills with some change. Many farmers’ markets also accept SNAP and WIC benefits on the Lone Star Card.
The Lone Star card is an “electronic benefits transfer” card, like a debit card, for families with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) benefits. Tens of thousands of Texans are eligible for these benefits—whether you’re a senior, a college student, between jobs or are currently earning a low income. For more about the program and to see if you’re eligible, visit the Your Texas Benefits website.
I’ve never shopped at a farmers’ market. What should I expect?
If you’ve never shopped at a farmers’ market, you’re in for a treat. Here are a few tips to make your trip an enjoyable and efficient experience: First, in addition to having cash available (see above), it’s recommended to bring your own bags, such as a larger canvas bag and smaller bags for more delicate items, to hold your purchases. You may also want to bring a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs for eggs, meat, and dairy if you’re not planning on going straight home with your purchases. Also, make sure you are prepared for the weather—inclement or otherwise—as most markets are held rain or shine.
A note about planning: It helps to know what is in season and likely available at the farmers’ market before you go. (You can consult our What’s in Season list or find a list of vendors on the websites of individual farmers’ markets). And finally, to make your farmers’ market experience the most pleasant it can be: Get to know the farmers, ranchers and other producers who are selling their wares to you and ask questions if you want to. You might soon find yourself a loyal customer.
Shopping at a farmers’ market isn’t convenient for me on Saturday mornings. Are there other days or times where I can find Buy Fresh Buy Local-certified food?
While it’s true that traditionally, farmers’ markets are often held on Saturday mornings, these days they are open on a variety of days and at different times of day—from weekday evenings to Sunday afternoons and everywhere in between. Check the Farmers’ Markets page on this website to find a Buy Fresh Buy Local farmers’ market that’s held at a time that is most convenient for you. In addition, farm stands are often open multiple days and times throughout the week. Check our Farm Stands page for a map and listing, including hours.