Urban Harvest Farmers Market: Mark Saturday mornings on your calendar

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Created by Isabel Hoffman

Bright and early at 7AM, my little eight-year-old self was pouncing on my father as he read the newspaper on our brown pleated coach while he lovingly stroked our pet dog- Charcoal. No sooner did Charcoal greet me with sloppy licks, I call kisses, my dad, Charcoal, and I were strapped into our red suburban jeep on our way to the Farmers Market. As we exited our car and crossed over the threshold of my favorite part of the week, I could already hear the sweet harmonies of Mrs. Jenny’s wind chimes and the burnt smell of cinnamon, as coffees were handed out to the waiting public. As we neared the end left corner of the market, I could see Sarah Lee’s flower booth that we bought peonies from and brought home to my step-mom. We soon danced around the produce section, picking up some veggies as we said hello to our neighbor, who happened to be one of the vendors selling produce as well. As our morning came to an end, I could still smell the sharp scent of paprika as the Indian booth closed down for the day and wrapped up the Masala they sold minutes earlier. 

Saturday mornings for most usually included extended time in bed and rest for the week behind them. For myself and my dad, Saturday mornings turned into an adventure and a way to connect to each other. Urban Harvest Farmers Market rekindled the spark between my dad and me as the farmers market I grew up worshipping closed down when I was around twelve years old, and closed a period of time I had with my father. 

Urban Harvest Farmers Market of Houston was founded in 1994. The market was initially created because of the lack of locally grown produce. The market was established in response to this issue and generated a market of sustainably grown and local produce for the Houston metropolitan area. The farmers market also brought together the community of Houston through vendors, sellers, buyers, and citizens.  This treasure sits on the corner of Westheimer and West Alabama, close to St. Johns. The market, whether rain or shine, opens its imaginary doors every Saturday morning from eight to twelve. 

I rounded the path into the Market and once again could hear the chatter of vendors and the smell of freshly brewed coffee with a hint of the butter-whipped chocolate croissant that seemed to be calling my name. Like I once did when I was little, I immediately made a b-line towards the drinks area, which was nicely situated in the middle of the chaos and drew those into the Market closer,  and ordered myself a hot chocolate. There were at least four different pastry and drink vendors all lined up in a row, but I chose the one with the shortest line which happened to be the only one supplying hot chocolate. As I sipped on the hot beverage, some would say it is absurd to be drinking in the humid and scorching temperatures of Houston in the summer, my eyes drifted to the sea of smiles and laughs shared upon the Market.

I noticed the prepared foods, drinks, and food trucks all lined up on the right side of the Market’s entrance, and the zig zag nature that the rest of the market followed. I could see the backs of the flower booths and the fronts of the freshly picked produce section directly across from me. I wandered over to the end of the market, where there were artisanal soaps and paintings. My eyes caught the ones of an old lady named Ms. Nguyen. She did not have a booth, but rather a plastic chair and table, where she lined up the produce she grew at home. Although I only purchased two melons from her, she insisted that I take some extra tomatoes, free of charge. Ms. Nguyen’s kindness only elevated my already joyous nature for the market.

Photo by Isabel Hoffman

 My feet dragged themselves to one of the three flower booths of the Market, and my nose easily caught onto the freshly picked smell of sunflowers wafting through the air. I secured a bunch of sunflowers in my hand, and swiftly steered myself to the produce section lined on the back right corner of the Market. I picked up some vegetables I knew my mom needed for her bolognese she would make later that day, and also found myself buying a basket of peaches to soothe my craving for the sweet fruit. I easily made my way back to the front of the Market where I couldn’t help but give in and purchase some homemade dumplings in the booth across from me. The dumplings, as well as the not needed, but extra helping of noodles, helped boost my energy from previously escorting myself around what couldn’t be more than a half a parking lot radius of room. 

Now my filled to the brim tote bag and satisfied stomach glanced back at the whole of the Market as I walked along the path back to the concrete lot I parked in earlier. My hands found themselves dialing my dad and boasting to him about the amazing time I had at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market. No sooner did I mention the dumplings, my father was ready to block off eight to twelve AM on Saturdays for the foreseeable future in order for us to come to the Market together as we did all those years ago. 

That’s how I found myself rushing my dad, new dog- Boston, and myself into my black Toyota Corolla, on our way to the Farmers Market. Urban Harvest, although didn’t have the exact hint of cinnamon or Mrs. Jenny’s booth, still rekindled the relationship between my father and I, and gave me a new reason to want to wake up early on a Saturday morning.