News

Sanger, a small town in Denton County, is not what most folks picture when they hear the term “food desert.” That phrase connotes big cities, not small towns–especially in Denton County with its many food producers: farmers, ranchers, bakers, and other small food businesses.

But despite these numerous producers, Sanger doesn’t have a grocery store with consistent access to fresh produce. And many of the choices that do exist are national chains, which funnel money out of the community and away from small businesses.

Amber Whitworth-Spigner and a team of volunteers started the Downtown Sanger Farmers Market in 2022 to help alleviate both problems. They aim to support small food producers and the Sanger community. “This market was inspired by the people who will stand in the cold and in the rain to support their families and keep the food on the table no matter what the circumstances,” Amber said. 

Even though they’re all volunteers and no one is getting paid for this work, the market team continues to identify needs in the community and expand the work that they’re doing in response.

The Downtown Sanger market is open every other weekend on both Saturdays and Sundays with varying hours to make sure as many folks as possible can make it to the market, rather than the usual Saturday-morning-only model. 

The market is also going to start accepting SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) when they reopen for the season in March–another initiative to make sure as many Sanger residents as possible can take advantage of what the market has to offer. Amber and her husband are also working to start a second market in Valley View, another community with low food access.

“We want to be there for the community,” Amber said. “Having a place in town to shop locally-made or locally-grown items is a privilege that not many have.”

The Downtown Sanger Farmers Market market brings farmers, ranchers, and local producers together with local consumers of the Sanger and surrounding communities. The market is open the first and third weekends of the month from mid-March through early December, on Saturdays from 9 AM-1 PM and on Sundays from 10 AM-2 PM. 

The 2024 market season opens on March 16–click here for more details!

The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) is collaborating with Coy Poitier, Chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Dallas Urban County Committee, to explore a series of webinars about how Texas farmers and ranchers can benefit from participating in USDA programs. One of our goals is to highlight small, urban, and historically underserved producers who have successfully accessed technical or financial assistance from USDA.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring farmers are welcome!

Working with NRCS – Conservation Planning & EQIP – April 17, 2024 – 6:00 – 7:30 PM CST

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0kduqrqDIsHdG545vGbpcwhxU3WXudBzAY#/registration

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a USDA agency that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers throughout the country. Conservation planning is the first step to begin working with NRCS and their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is often the first financial assistance program agricultural producers apply to.

Join us in this webinar to learn about these two popular programs from NRCS. We’ll hear from an NRCS Texas Urban Conservationist and 2-3 Texas farmers/ranchers who will share their experiences working with the agency.

Bring your questions!

P.S. You need a farm number to access NRCS resources. Check out the recording from our first USDA program webinar to learn more: https://www.txfed.org/courses/fsa-farm-numbers-what-why-and-how

A flyer for the NRCS webinar on April 17, 2024 featuring a photo of a butterfly on bee balm flowers. The flyer provides some additional information beyond the blog post. First, it shows that the webinar will cover two programs: Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). It also lists the  planned speakers: Coy Poitier, Fred Henderson, Michael Brooks, Ty and Tokie Morgan, and Kay Bell.

Coming Soon…

  • FSA Farm Loan Opportunities
  • RMA Programs for Small & Urban Farms

PREVIOUS WEBINARS:

FSA Farm Numbers: What, Why & How – March 6, 2024 – 6:00 – 7:00 PM CST

Recording: https://www.txfed.org/courses/fsa-farm-numbers-what-why-and-how

A farm number from USDA is the gateway to many public programs that can help grow, improve, and aid your farm or ranch in times of need. If you’re interested in working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), you’ll need to get a farm number! 

In this online community meeting, we’ll hear from an FSA representative on the benefits and process of getting a farm number, and three Texas farm businesses who have used farm numbers to access technical and financial resources for their farms. We’ll leave plenty of time for Q&A, so come ready with questions.

We’ll update this page with new webinars as we plan them. Stay tuned by following us at @TexasLocalFood on Instagram or Facebook.

Farmers Market managers convened in San Antonio during the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference on January 29, 2024 for the 3rd annual Farmers Market Track meetup and market-focused sessions.

Nino Budabin McQuown, the Farmers Market Coalition Food Access Project Manager, broke down 2022 data on national farmers market statistics and highlighted specific impacts in Texas. Check out Nino’s recorded presentation with a free login and enrollment at TXFED.org.

TCLF’s Anna Wright Smith taught a course on how to accept SNAP, and the Sustainable Food Center’s Wanda Hernandez and Jeanette Castañón shared about nutrition incentives and how they work. Yelitza Garcia of TCLF led market leaders in “How to Make your Market Welcoming to SNAP Shoppers,” featuring excellent advice and tools from Liz Shafer of Texas Farmers’ Markets.

MarketLink and FNS joined us at TOFGA for the first time this year, approving 4 farms and 2 markets to receive the EBT equipment grant and start accepting SNAP!

We hope you’ll join us next year at the TOFGA Conference!

Don’t miss out, are you interested in accepting SNAP at your farmers market? Join us for an information session on Wednesday, February 28 at 5:30 PM Central. Register for the webinar on Zoom and prepare your questions. We can’t wait to see you there!

Visit our Community page to join the Texas Network of Farmers Markets: https://texaslocalfood.org/community/

Our farmers market services project, A Fresh Look at Your Farmers Market, strengthens SNAP programs at Texas farmers markets. Accepting SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) boosts farmers’ profits and increases community access to fresh, healthy local food.

Working alongside our Fresh Look partner markets, TCLF has achieved the following results this year so far.

Interested in accepting SNAP at your farmers market? Already accept SNAP and want to increase your vendors’ SNAP sales? Fill out the Fresh Look interest form, and a member of our team will be in touch soon.

All of our Farm-to-Kids recipes are now organized on a new webpage! You’ll find sweet treats like Texas Peach Jam and savory dishes like fresh pesto sauce that may help you incorporate more locally grown produce into your home cooking. Inspiring youth to eat seasonally and locally is one of the goals of Farm-to-Kids Texas; simple recipes like these make reaching that goal easy and delicious. We love getting creative in the classroom and seeing what works well with our K-8 students. These recipes are classroom favorites, and maybe they’ll become some of your favorites too! Find them all here

Screen shot of Farm-to-Kids Recipe Page, includes list of recipe titles at the top and 6 oval shaped photos of students making different foods during class
  • We take individual responsibility for our actions.
  • We take initiative and can work independently.
  • We hold each other accountable.
  • We are transparent and share progress reports on our work.
  • We accept constructive criticism and compliments. we practice grace.
  • We ask ourselves “What is here for me to learn?“.
  • We strive for progress. We report accomplishments.
  • We first try to answer questions ourselves and then we ask questions.
  • We help each other.
  • We respect each other’s time & capacity.
  • We are well-prepared for meetings.
  • We rehearse presentations, especially for people outside of TCLF; we are polished in our presentations even if they’re just a quick update.
  • We present ourselves physically in our attire according to the situation.  Example: We are a little more dressed up when meeting with folks outside of TCLF. When we go to an in person meeting at a school, we are dressed to school dress codes.
  • We never forget that if we are serving our primary customer, Texas sustainable and organic farmers and ranchers, we will be successful.
  • We never forget that taxpayers fund most of our work and we owe them excellent value for their investment in us.
  • We work at the center, not the edges.  We focus on the outcomes and impact.
  • We work within our sphere of influence.
  • We are prompt and show up for others fully present.
  • We work smarter, not harder and are time-efficient in achieving our tasks.
  •  We don’t reinvent the wheel and leverage pre-existing resources.
  • We focus on doing the right thing as well as doing things right.
  • We create a safe space for honest communication; if there is an issue, directly speak to with those involved.
  • We value collaborative work.
  • We strive to listen actively. 

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Young Farmer Grant application is open now through October 11, 2023. This grant opens two times per year and is an excellent opportunity for Texas farmers between 18 and 45 years young. There are very few *true* grant opportunities for for-profit farmers in Texas, and this one allows you to fund operational supplies, livestock, seeds/plants, labor, contract work, equipment (TDA will cover up to $5k), and more. The minimum request is $5k and maximum is $20k.

I’ve worked on several of these applications with farmers the past few years. Here are a few things to consider if you want to apply:

  • Funders love projects with specific goals, tasks, and timelines. And in this case, TDA wants to see that you have a specific project that will increase your farm’s production in terms of acreage planted, number of animals, yield, etc.
  • This grant is best for farmers with some sales and/or production history. It’s not required! But since TDA wants to fund commercial and not hobby farms, having a Schedule F (or other agricultural income tax form) or other production history documents will be a benefit to your application during review.
  • It is a 1:1 matching grant. In other words, if you request $10k from TDA, you have to “match” that with your own $10k. There is some flexibility around how you can provide match – it’s project dependent and we’re happy to chat with you more about it. While match can feel discouraging, the thing to keep in mind is… if you know you’re going to spend, for example, $10k on a specific project this year on your farm… why not apply to the grant and try to get 50% of that covered?
  • The grant is reimbursement based. You will have to cover costs of the project up front and then submit receipts to get funding. TDA knows things won’t always line up exactly to the penny if you’re awarded; it’s most about being in communication and getting approval for major changes!

To learn more, visit TDA’s webpage and read the Request for Grant Application. You can also watch a recorded presentation below about the grant by TDA’s Kat Neilson, who partnered with the Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition to host a virtual info session last year.

If you’d like to talk to someone at TCLF about applying and getting assistance with your application, then please submit an intake form with us!

TDA Young Farmer Grant Info Session – April 2022

Hey farmers! Southern SARE has released its request for proposal for Producer grants. We encourage you to have a look at it today and consider applying. Applications are due Nov 10, 2023.

SARE Producer grants give farmers the opportunity to conduct their own research projects. This competitive research grants program is intended to help farmers and ranchers develop sustainable production and marketing practices.  Maximum grant amount is $25,000 and project duration is 2 years.

Have a look, learn about this valuable grant program for farmers, SARE Producer grants. Read the grant Request for Proposals carefully and design your project to fit the requirements. If you need help, after you’ve read it and thought about an application, please contact us and we’ll help you and/or refer you to someone who can.

And hey if you don’t think you do research, listen to this podcast interview with our friends Brennan Washington (Southern SARE) and Felicia Bell (NCAT). Farmers do research – all the time.

The Texas Center for Local Food is launching a series of community meetings this fall about Making Money for Your Farm! 

The series will explore marketing and sales topics by and for Texas farmers and ranchers. Meetings are an opportunity to learn from, connect, and ask questions of other Texas producers while building community connections and learning how to grow your farm business. Registration is FREE and required in advance via Zoom.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring alike!

🍴 How to Break into Restaurant Sales — Wednesday, September 6th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErcO2vrjMoG9a-26BE0DIUQw8WiHCydJIO 

For the first event on September 6, Texas farmers and chefs discuss what you need to do as a farmer to sell to restaurants and what to keep in mind when you’re building your relationship with chefs. Featuring Finegan Ferreboeuf of Steelbow Farm, Chelsea Fadda of Pecan Square Cafe, Marcella Juarez of Palo Blanco Farm & Ranch and Nadia Casaperalta of South Texas College’s Culinary Department. Bring your questions, share with your network, and register today!

🥕 Best Practices for Selling at Farmers Markets — Wednesday, October 4th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rceyopjIsGNGU7yEdobREz-fKgupYtpb5 

Are you interested in selling at farmers markets, or making improvements to your current setup? Join the Texas Center for Local Food for the second event of their Making Money for Your Farm series on October 4th from 6:00pm – 7:30pm!

Hear from two experienced farmers market vendors – Kay Bell with Passion Garden Farm and Chisa Brigham at HAD Land Farms – about what they’ve learned and how they maximize their profitability at market. They’ll discuss best practices for display, sales, and logistics, and leave plenty of time for discussion and questions. Register today & please share!


📈 Harvest & Sales Tracking Tools — Wednesday, November 1st — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsduGuqTkiHtXbdwHR11PdcvpswrWXxGQ8

So you’re selling your products but you don’t have a great system in place to keep track of it all… come learn from two Texas producers and educators – Shakera Raygoza of Sentli Regenerative Center and Terra Preta Farm, and Michelle Akindiya of Farmshare Austin – what it looks like to track harvests and sales across different market channels. They’ll share and explain their farm harvest and sales tracking systems, and how they utilize services like Square and Quickbooks. We’ll leave plenty of time for discussion, and we’ll send you home with customizable tracking spreadsheet templates.