Flavorful Food and Fun Abound with Farmers’ Offerings
Hands down one of the absolute best things about the Upper East Side of Texas is its farmers and the produce they offer direct from their farms or at community markets where they bring their fresh produce to consumers. From tomatoes, peas, squash, okra, peppers, onions, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, wine, honey, dairy, and meats, this part of the country is famous for the best-tasting fresh food found anywhere.
Farmers’ markets date way back but declined after World War II with the advent of supermarkets and convenience stores. People didn’t give much thought to where their food came from as long as it was convenient.
In recent years more and more consumers, chefs, restaurant owners, grocers, and stewards of the earth are paying better attention to the process of getting food from where it’s grown to the kitchen table as quickly as possible by eliminating its long-distance transport and unknown shelf life to get the best freshness possible for the ultimate in flavorful meals.
It’s brought a huge interest in culinary tourism to the region and thousands of people each year to local farmers’ markets and to open-to-the-public farms.
Each farmers market has a variety of produce to choose from and some have vineyard fair as well, selling wine by the bottle. Some offer entertainment as well by local musicians, and artist and culinary demonstrations.
Most markets are open at least on Saturdays from May through October. Some have extended hours.
A favorite of County Line readers is Winnsboro Farmers’ Market, a Best of the Upper East Side winner for produce and they also feature a Best Chef, Debbie Fleming. This market has special events such as ice cream contests, salsa tastings, farm tours, and gourmet farm dinners. Check out their website for more at www.winnsborofarmersmarket.com.
The Sulphur Springs Farmers’ Market is located in the revitalized downtown district and is described as “new urbanism, cultural heritage, and the creative class.” In addition to outstanding produce they have street musicians, artisans, and offer a unique ambience with the adjacent courthouse plaza. Learn more at www.sulphurspringsfarmersmarket.com.
Mineola’s farmers market also offers live music and art, lush produce, plants, eggs, homemade breads, jams and jellies, tamales, and fresh herbs. Visit www.miniolafarmersmarket.com.
Other notable farmers’ markets are in Paris, Nacogdoches, and Athens.
For those who may want to get even closer to the source, a few farms are open to the public and are well worth the drive if even for a small container of cheese spread.
Full Quiver Farm in Kemp offers melt-in-your-mouth good cheese spreads and artisanal cheeses, as well other products. They are carried in Whole Foods stores and were written about in the Austin Chronicle and June 2010 County Line Magazine. They are open throughout the week at 6238 FM 3396 in Kemp but call first, 903.498.3884.
Greer Farm in Daingerfield raises vegetables and herbs, fruit, and berries, flowers, beef, and offers unique culinary experiences through private dining, catering and Farm to Fork cooking classes. 903.645.3232. www.greerfarm.com.
Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom offers pick-your-own orchards and they have a store on location with an abundant supply of blueberries and other farm-fresh products. Call them at 903.852.6175 and visit www.blueberryhillfarms.com.
Numerous vineyards in the region offer a variety of wines. Some favorites to be sure to check out include Los Pinos Vineyards in Pittsburg, Kiepersol in Bullard, and Tara Winery in Athens.
To further celebrate the Upper East Side of Texas farmers’ offerings discover produce-themed festivals this summer in Jacksonville, Golden, and Sulphur Springs to name a few.
For a comprehensive list of produce markets, wineries, open-to-the-public farms, and festivals in the region go to www.countylinemagazine.com.