After a scorching Texas summer, the Harker Heights Farmers Market wrapped up its third season Saturday.
The market set up shop on the Seton Medical Center Harker Heights’ lawn every Saturday from May to Sept. 28 and will return to that location next May.
“This market provided a venue where local farmers, producers, and artisans could come together to provide a variety of fresh produce and related products directly to the consumer that they can’t get anywhere else,” said Heather Cox, Parks and Recreation Department activities coordinator. “The market encouraged direct communication between consumers and growers and it fostered a sense of community and camaraderie.”
The brainchild of Cox and Sarah Rodriquez, a former activities specialist, the duo recognized the need for a farmers market in Heights in 2011 when they saw an opportunity for the community to solidify its identity in a transient, military-based area.
“Growing up in Nebraska, we had markets like this all over the place and I was surprised to not see them all over Texas,” Cox said. “The community has really rallied around this market and we saw a steady stream of people come through every Saturday. We even had all of the vendors sell out one Saturday we were so busy.”
During its debut in 2011, the season started off with four vendors. Interest has since grown, with 38 vendors participating this year, Cox said.
For first-time vendor Dean Lord of Lord Farms in Richland, the market served as a platform to help sell his produce.
“This market really helped us out a lot and we will continue to participate,” Lord said.
His only complaint was that he wished the market would stay open until October, when cooler temperatures would attract more foot traffic and he could sell more seasonal produce.
“The response we got here was excellent and are looking to sell our grass-fed beef next season,” he said.
Vendors will have one more opportunity to sell their goods before the year ends at a Holiday Farmers Market from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Harker Heights Community Park. The market will sell everything from baked goods, jams and goat milk lotion to hand-knitted blankets and holiday wreaths.
“It’s a great place to pick up unique holiday gifts,” Cox said.
For customers, fresh and local produce kept them coming back to the farmers market this year.
“We come all the time because we just love farmers markets,” said Tana McDaniel of Killeen. “You can’t get produce any fresher than what they have here.”
The market sold a wide range of items, including produce, eggs, herbs, local honey, baked goods and jewelry.
“We had people tell us they came to the market just for our stuff, which always made us feel good about the products we were selling,” said Trisha Sulak of Sunrise Muffins n’ More. “We have been a vendor here for the past three years and the market keeps true to Texas and how things should be — local and homemade.”
Prospective vendors can apply at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/parks or by calling Cox at 254-953-5493.