Not too many seasons ago, if Joyce Couch took 200 cantaloupes to the farmer’s market she’d sell them all and wish she had more to sell.
These days, Couch said, she’s lucky to sell a quarter that many.
“We’re struggling,” Couch said. “Part of it might be that the market moved, and people haven’t found us. Some of it’s the weather. With all the rain and clouds, people don’t get out.”
But the farmer’s market — at a new location this year in downtown Brownwood in the 500 block of Brown Street in the lot between Adams and Chandler — is a special part of the community, Couch said.
“We really want it to succeed and grow. All of the produce is grown in the area, and the majority of what’s sold is grown in Brown County.”
The market is open from 3 p.m. until sell out Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 7 a.m. until sell out each Saturday through September.
Lately, Couch said, between three and six vendors have been at the market to sell, and as of this week, the market has 14 members who could possibly have produce to sell. The farmer’s market has partnered with Downtown Brownwood Inc. and each entity would like for the market to grow to what it was in its former years.
“During the ’80s the market had over 70 members,” said Mary Stanley, president of DBI. “DBI’s goal is to see the market revived and see it play a central part in animating downtown.”
Stanley said she could even imagine the market growing to one day feature musicians and artists setting up on market days.
For now, though, growers wish the old-fashioned love of good, fresh fruits and vegetables will provide the lure to keep customers coming back for more,” Couch said. “Some of what’s there right now includes tomatoes, cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash, corn, peppers and watermelon — that’s in season right now. What’s available changes as the summer goes on.”
Todd Price, market manager, said besides all of the produce being grown in the area, some buyers are particularly interested in finding out some items for sale are “organically grown.”
Besides produce, Price said, some sellers have plants and herbs for sale. Plants such as oxalis, hanging baskets, cannas and ornamental sweet potato vines are usually available at the market.
And with today’s market falling on the eve of the Fourth of July, Couch said, they’re hoping for a record turnout of buyers and sellers.
“All this good food, grown right here — we’ve got plenty of cantaloupes, just a huge crop,” Couch said. “I think it would be a wonderful way to celebrate the Fourth of July — I just hope people know about the market and come see what’s there.”