DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — Bags of red potatoes line a table along with some squash and other fresh vegetables. A carton of free-range chicken eggs waits for somebody to pluck it up, take it home and turn it into omelets.
Other booths lining the westside of the courthouse square in Burnet display a number of goods and wares, including artisan breads, jewelry, woolen goods, plants and, yes, more vegetables.
Welcome to the 2014 Burnet Farmers’ Market, which entices people to buy fresh produce, handcrafted items, speciality meats and even locally produced wine every Saturday through the fall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“One of the great things about the market is it’s always changing,” said Bob Caruthers of the Highland Lakes Master Gardeners Association. The group sponsors the weekly market, which started about nine years ago. “As the growing season changes, so does some of the things you’ll find. And that’s one of the fun things about farmers’ markets. You get a chance to try a whole bunch of different things.”
Oh, you’ll have the chance to buy the standard fare, including potatoes, squash and tomatoes, but these will be locally grown and freshly picked vegetables. You’ll taste the difference from store-bought items. But throughout the summer and fall, as the growing season evolves, the produce that growers bring in also will shift and change.
“We also have a lot of people who bring in handmade items,” Caruthers said. “You’ll have baked goods along with jams and other speciality things. You really need to come out and see what’s all there.”
The idea of farmers’ markets is nothing new. Before the advent of modern grocery stores (and even since), a lot of people bought fresh vegetables from similar markets, if they didn’t grow it themselves. Farmers and growers gathered in a part of town, set up booths and sold. Some of the tradition draws on roots from the European countries hundreds of years ago when communities held regular festivals featuring produce and handmade items and even included music and games.
While not quite at that level yet, the Burnet Farmers’ Market definitely offers more than a place to buy and sell vegetables, garden plants, handmade items and even artisan jams, jellies and canned goods. People get to interact with the growers and makers, not something you can find at the grocery story.
“You get to ask them how they grew it,” said Lavonna Fry, a Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association member.
Regulars to the market strike up a relationship with the producer and vice versa. It’s not just a simple buyer-seller atmosphere, but one of sharing and learning. Caruthers said there’s a sense of community surrounding the farmers’ market.
“It’s a very friendly atmosphere,” he said. “Everybody has a good time. I think that’s one of the things that makes it so much different than going to the store.”
Along with the produce and goods, the farmers’ market offers a seminar the third Saturday of each month on various topics. The most recent one focused on rainwater collection.
Go to www.burnetcountyhighlandlakesmastergardener.org for more information on the farmers’ market and other Master Gardeners’ programs and events.