Move will allow for larger footprint for market that has served as launching pad for area businesses since 2004
HOUSTON, TX (September 6, 2018) - Since 2004, the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market has provided a year-round sales outlet for small, local farms and businesses. On Saturday, September 22, the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market will open at its new location, St. John’s School (3401 Westheimer), in the lot located at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Westheimer. “Our new strategic plan focuses on expanding farmers market outreach and programs,” said Janna Roberson, Urban Harvest’s Executive Director. “The new location allows us to offer expanded programs, products and events, ultimately connecting our farmers to clients and creating a dependable economic source of support to local farms.” With the new location, Urban Harvest’s Farmers Market footprint will grow 50%, add 600 parking spaces, and allow for increased programming.
For the past 15 years, the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market – often called the Eastside Farmers Market – had made its home in the parking lot adjacent to Kirby Ice House on Eastside Street, near Richmond Ave. The lot’s owner, The Morgan Group, leased the lot to the organization recognizing the impact a market can have on the surrounding community. “We have enjoyed being a partner with Urban Harvest as they’ve grown the Saturday market into the largest producers-only farmers market in the city,” said Philip Morgan, Senior Vice President, Development of The Morgan Group. “We recognize that with success also comes growth, and wish them the best as they take the market to the next level at their new location.”
Annually, the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market generates an economic impact of over $2.9 million for Houston’s local economy and food system. All vendors are within 180 miles of Houston, and 1-in-5 derive over 50% of their income from sales at the market.
Stacie and Garrett Gundermann joined the market in 2009, selling fresh produce from their family farm, Gundermann Acres. From 2009-2017, their farm grew from 90 acres and 2 employees to 500 acres and 20 employees. In the weeks preceding Hurricane Harvey, the Gundermanns had managed to harvest the majority of their sweet potato crops, allowing them to maintain a presence at the Saturday Farmers Market even after their farm took on 20 inches of flood water, forcing them to lose nearly 400 acres of crops. A year later, while the farm is not back to 100% yet, the Gundermanns never miss a market
The Saturday Famers Market has also become a local resource for some of Houston’s top chefs to procure fruits and vegetables for their restaurants. Chris Shepherd, winner of the 2014 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest and chef/owner of Underbelly Hospitality, can be seen most Saturdays shopping both for his restaurants and his own home. “The Urban Harvest Farmers Market is like the town square,” said Shepherd. “It’s a place where farmers, vendors, shoppers and families meet up every week. Supporting local farmers is a huge part of how I cook and run my restaurants, and it’s important for Houstonians to have a place to meet the people who are growing their food, raising chickens or growing the flowers they put on their table. I’ve said this for a long time – no farm, no food. I should probably rephrase it a little: no farmers, no farm, no food.”
2017 James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southwest Award winner Hugo Ortega is another market regular. “My wife Tracy -- a St. John’s Graduate -- and I have been supporters of the Urban Harvest Farmers Market since the beginning, when it was called the Bayou City Farmers Market,” says Ortega. “In addition to supporting area farmers and producers and getting great local products, it’s fun to spend a Saturday morning wandering the market with a coffee in my hand, a large bag for collecting my discoveries, finding new vendors and speaking with other chefs and Houstonians. It is a true community feeling, and I love that.”
In addition, the market has also been an incubator for local businesses throughout the greater Houston area. August Vega’s company MALK launched in 2014 with its line of nut milks at the Saturday Farmers Market. Today MALK can be found in stores nationwide. “Urban Harvest is where it all started for MALK,” said Vega, who runs the company with brother Justin Brodnax and cousin Joel Canada. “We consistently sold out of our products, and it really validated all of the hard work and effort our team was putting into the idea of making the cleanest nut milks on the market.”
The Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market will maintain its current hours of 8 a.m. – Noon, with free parking for patrons. The following is the schedule of the upcoming Urban Harvest Farmers Market events:
ASK THE EXPERT
October 13, November 10, December 15
8am – Noon
Get all of your gardening questions answered by experts. Our team boasts over 50 years of gardening experience combined.
Saturday, October 27
8am – Noon
Celebrate Fall with activities for all ages! A local chef will create a holiday recipe with fresh produce from the market during the Urban Harvest Farmers Market Chef Series presented by Kroger. Recipe cards will be available to take home and create the dish for your holiday festivities. Youth activities including pumpkin and squash painting will entertain our youngest patrons.
FARMERS MARKET TOUR
Saturday, November 17
8am – Noon
Get to know the vendors! This special tour day will feature market tours on the half-hour giving you a chance to learn about our farmers and vendors, in addition to what’s in season.
Saturday, December 15
8am – Noon
Learn about and sample many varieties of citrus that can be grown in Houston. Dr. Bob Randall will be on-hand to answer questions about best practices for growing citrus – either in a yard or a container.
The Urban Harvest City Hall Farmers Market will reopen on Wednesday, September 12th and take place every Wednesday from 11am – 1:30pm around City Hall throughout the fall.
For more information on the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market or to learn more about the organization, visit www.urbanharvest.org or call 713.880.5540.
About Urban Harvest:
Founded in 1994, Urban Harvest’s mission is to cultivate thriving communities through gardening and access to healthy, local food. Urban Harvest achieves this mission through three core programs: Youth and Adult Education, Community Gardens and Farmers Markets.