Cedar Park and Mueller Farmers Markets (podcast)

Jan 1st, 2016 | By | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
Farmers Market, Cedar Park, Texas

Cedar Park Farmers Market, Image from F2M Texas

Farmers markets support local farmers, ranchers and food artisans, by bringing them together in one place where consumers have access to their goods. Most markets are located in the central city, but in the past few years markets have been created to serve areas of new population growth — such as Cedar Park.

Carla Jenkins, is the self proclaimed “head instigator” and manager of the Cedar Park Farmers Market at Lakeline Mall and Mueller Farmers Market in the Mueller Development. She says an influx of Californians to the area north of the Capital City, Austin was the impetus for the Cedar Park location. “Residents made it clear to their local council members they didn’t want to dive into Austin to the various markets there. They wanted one of their own.”

Cedar Park officials reached out to Sunset Valley a town south of Austin with a successful market to explore the idea of a market in their community. Carla at one time worked with the City Council in Sunset Valley and with the Sunset Valley Farmers market and was familiar with what it took to manage such an enterprise and to develop relationships with producers and consumers. She took on the challenge.

“That first Saturday we opened in March of 2010, we had 20 vendors and 3,000 people. It was an overwhelming success, and they’ve been supporting us ever since.”

Since then, the market has grown to meet demand, and is one of the largest in Central Texas, with a seasonal high of 85 vendors, about a third of which are farmers. While you won’t find much in the way of crafts at the market because Carla said “my shoppers told me they don’t want crafts, they just want food,” the market does offer cooking demos, live music, a food truck, activities for the kids, and lots of locally sourced vegetables, meat, fish and dairy, in addition to artisan products.

East Austin is another area of booming growth, and when the Mueller Farmers Market — under Carla Jenkins’s tutelage — opened its gates, it, too was met with unbridled enthusiasm. “When we opened at Mueller we had 6,000 people at that first opening, which was scary and exciting.” Carla says today they have a more manageable 1,000 to 1,200  people visiting the market every Sunday, and offer much of what they do in Cedar Park.

Quite a few of the farmers markets in our area operate under the umbrella of the Sustainable Food Center, but not Cedar Park and Mueller. Although, Carla says they work together closely on farm inspections and share other pertinent information. “Any way I can support them, and any way they can support me — we do it,” she said.

Every farmers market has its own vibe, and Carla says while both Cedar Park and Mueller Markets exude a sense of community and a shared purpose, Cedar Park’s Saturday shoppers seem more food-focused, whereas the Sunday shoppers at Mueller seem more inclined toward the social aspect of a market outing.

That’s the beauty of farmers markets. They’re where you’ll  find seasonal foods,  have an opportunity to learn something new, and a chance to bond with family and to catch up with friends and neighbors.

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