A Community Affair

Kelly Sosland and Cynthia England got fed up with trekking 90 minutes to Austin from Fredericksburg on Saturday mornings to get their weekly supply of fresh, local food from the farmers markets.  

“Quit bitching and just start one,” a mutual friend advised them. In less than six months, they—along with a cadre of like-minded foodie friends—did just that.

The Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market opened May 15 with about a dozen anchor vendors at Marktplatz, the central square laid out by the original settlers of Fredericksburg in 1846. In addition to local meats and produce, the market features a lavender booth that will be staffed by area lavender farms throughout the season. And in keeping with the Fredericksburg tradition of home gardening, the market also includes a Pot Luck table, allowing non-commerical growers to bring smaller amounts of items to complement the core growers and add variety. “We try to find a place for anyone who is interested,” says Sosland.

In addition to strong support from local growers and producers, the market has a passionate core group of market-organizing volunteers, including Cynthia’s husband, David Clements, who is responsible for farm visits and recruiting vendors and Carla Lind, who lent her years of experience to the project. (Lind started one of the most successful farmers markets in the United States in Oak Park, IL 33 years ago, which is still going strong). Local grower Dan Rohr and community-relations specialist Deb Kirchdorfer round out the steering committee. Financial support has come from the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission, and the City of Fredericksburg is leasing the site at a reduced rate. The Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau (FCVB) and the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce are helping with promotion. Ernie Loeffler, director of the FCVB, notes the popularity of open air farmers markets with wine and culinary travelers. “This is a niche travel segment that Fredericksburg is now actively pursuing, so the new market is a win-win for everyone,” he says.

Restaurateur Dawn Weightman, owner of top-rated August E’s agrees. “We couldn’t be more excited to go to one source for all of our fresh produce and goods....to be able to see, feel and touch before we buy makes all the difference.”