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Organic farmers market kicks off a new season


They won't have as many vegetables as they usually do, but the area's only organic farmers market is scheduled to kick off its new season at 9 a.m., Nov. 14 at North San Juan Park in San Juan.

Blame the lack of cold fronts, said a horticulturist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

"We've got plenty of vegetables to kick off the new harvest season of our farmers market, but not as much as we usually do, thanks to the warmer-than-usual fall weather we've been having," said AgriLife Extension horticulturist Barbara Storz.

Storz said the extended heat of summer has pushed back the harvest date for several crops, but they have harvested plenty of the more popular vegetables to sell. These include lettuce, radishes, squash, peppers, herbs, okra, Swiss chard, kale, Chinese cabbage and citrus.

"Eventually, our harvesting will catch up and that's good news for everybody because there is truly no way to beat the taste of freshly harvested, healthy produce," she said. "I hope our customers, both old and new, can come out and meet our growers. They can always use the encouragement to continue growing organic vegetables for Valley families and tell us what you'd like to buy in the future."

North San Juan Park is located at 511 E. Earling (the Nolana extension) between Raul Longoria and Cesar Chavez roads, some two miles east of U.S. 281. Admission is free.

The farmers market, starting its third year, is a creation of Grow'n Growers, an AgriLife Extension program organized by Storz that teaches low-income residents how to grow organic vegetables on their own properties, then sell them to the public.

Fifteen families who joined the program organized a farmers' cooperative known as Familias Productores del Valle, or Family Producers of the Valley to begin the organic farmers market.

"We've done very well," Storz said. "We've inspired other markets to get started and we've received two marketing grants this year to help us get our own Web page going in the near future."

Storz said the farmers market will be held the first and third Saturdays of the month through May.

For more information on the farmers market, contact Storz at 956-383-1026.

For information on planting a vegetable garden and planting dates, visit her website at www.hidalgo-tx.tamu.edu.

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