News

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.

Title screen that shows the title of the presentation, Money Left on the Table: How Increased Food Access Benefits Farmers and a photograph of a farmer selling produce.
Promotional poster for Small Food Producers conference that shows a photograph of people sitting at tables and taking notes attentively. There are also images of produce adorning the image.

The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) was recently invited to attend and speak at the Small Food Producers Conference hosted by Grow Local South Texas in Corpus Christi. This comprehensive event was designed to offer educational presentations catering specifically to the needs of small farms, ranches, cottage food businesses, and homesteaders. The conference agenda featured a diverse range of sessions and presentations, addressing topics from urban conservation to soil health and small business growth, providing a comprehensive and enriching experience for small food producers. This particular event aligned with TCLF’s goal to provide knowledge and resources to small food producers and was a valuable opportunity to listen to the needs and challenges of our audience.

This year, TCLF chose to present on the importance of accepting SNAP at farmers markets and the outcomes of our project, “A Fresh Look at Your Farmers Market.” SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), is a food allowance given to shoppers on a monthly basis. It is the nation’s most successful anti-hunger program and is a powerful stimulus when used with local food businesses. The Fresh Look project has two goals: to increase the number of farmers markets that accept SNAP and to increase SNAP sales at markets already accepting SNAP, thereby increasing the amount of money going directly to producers’ pockets. The second year of this project is almost wrapped up, so we were happy to present positive outcomes to the project, including providing one-on-one technical assistance to 37 Fresh Look partner sites and saving our partners over $15,000 in signs and social marketing promotion.

The event that stood out to us most wasn’t a presentation; it was a lunchtime town hall-style discussion. This discussion aimed to understand the challenges and obstacles that food producers encounter when selling at farmers’ markets. As one farmer pointed out, “We grow, harvest, clean, package, and drive to the market ourselves. It’s hard enough just to make it to the market in time.” Wearing multiple hats – from entrepreneur to ecologist and marketer – is the reality for small food producers. Many of them expressed a shared aspiration: building a consistent customer base to sustain their operations and to contribute to Texas’ food supply. Farmers are the cornerstone of TCLF’s work, and we were honored to be present in that discussion. It allowed us to contemplate how we can further connect farmers with resources and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.


After the event ended, one food producer caught up with us in the parking lot to talk more about accepting SNAP. “We’re so thankful,” she said. “This program has been great not just for us, but for our local community, too.” As we continue to collaborate and build bridges within the Texas food system, events like these reaffirm our commitment to supporting local food producers.

Title screen that shows the title of the presentation, Money Left on the Table: How Increased Food Access Benefits Farmers and a photograph of a farmer selling produce.

National Farmers Market Week is an occasion to highlight how farmers markets are changing the way we connect, eat, shop, and more! Always the first full week of August, this year’s National Farmers Market Week is August 6-12.

Farmers markets are changing the way we connect to foodways that sustain our communities. No two farmers markets are alike – they develop in the hands of local growers and in the hearts of community members who crave nutritious food and desire a connection with where their food comes from and how it is grown. Having witnessed the fragility of our food industry nationally during the pandemic, it has become even more evident that having a source of food grown close to home empowers communities.

Farmers markets are changing the way we connect around food. Farmers markets are a place where shoppers learn the cycles and flavors of the seasons and how to prepare the food we buy directly from the people who grow and raise it. Many farmers markets offer seasonal recipes and cooking demonstrations which excite and inspire us to make delicious meals ourselves, and many offer kid-friendly activities, such as farmers market scavenger hunts and food bucks for kids to do their own shopping so they, too, can engage with their local foodways.

Farmers Markets are changing the way we shop. Because farmers markets are so connected to place, each farmers market has its own culture of food, music, vendors, and set up. Different farmers markets accept different types of currency, trending towards the more, the merrier!

Just like adding credit and debit card processing at a farmers market opens doors to additional sales, so too adding additional forms of payment, such as SNAP EBT and WIC vouchers increases the customer base and sales at a farmer market. 

More than ever, we need places where people can come together. Farmers markets are designed in partnership with the people they serve, creating a space where market operators, farmers, shoppers, and neighbors can collaborate to meet the evolving needs of our communities.

Many of us shop at farmers markets to support local farmers and growers so that they earn a living growing the food we need and enjoy.

If you’ve wondered why the Texas Center for Local Food is in the business of increasing sales at farmers markets with our “Fresh Look at Your Farmers Market” project, that’s a big reason why: sales at farmers markets go directly into the pockets of the people producing our food. If we want farmers to be able to keep up their good work growing food, we need to build systems that make farming economically viable, such as increasing the customer base for farmers markets.

Want to sell at a farmers market?

Check out these free TXFED.org courses: 

  1. Is Selling at Any Farmers Market Right for You?
  2. Making Money at the Farmers Market (101)
  3. Optimizing Your Impact at the Farmers Market (101)

Want to support your local farmers market?

  1. Shop regularly at your farmers market – and tell you friends to do the same! 
  2. Local food fans are encouraged to share National Farmers Market Week on social media! Use the #LoveMyMarket and #FarmersMarketWeek to share the bounty of the season on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And tag us! @texaslocalfood
  3. Sponsor or directly fund initiatives at farmers markets that your business supports, such as staff to operate food access programs or next year’s National Farmers Market Week celebration.

See you at the market!

These ‘Fresh Look’ partner farmers markets currently accept SNAP EBT, also known as Lone Star Cards. Farmers market schedules and hours are subject to change.

Central Texas

East Texas

North Texas

South Texas

West Texas

  • Bodega Loya (El Paso) Friday and Sunday 12-5pm, Saturday 10am-5pm

Hey Texas farmers! Are you an experienced farmer interested in selling wholesale?

The Local Food Procurement Program (LFPA) is a new opportunity to sell to The Common Market Texas. The Common Market is a values-based food distributor out of Houston. They buy only Texas-grown products, mostly vegetables and distribute to schools, hospitals, and others.

When you sell to The Common Market, you will have a consistent sales outlet for your products and you retain your own farm brand identity. You’ll also be selling to a distributor who shares your values of equity, fairness, and environmental sustainability.

Let us know if you’re interested in learning more! Complete this interest form today.

Here’s QR code to the interest form.

A rapidly growing amount of research is highlighting the impact that food has on mental health and well-being. This connection has been difficult to study because we are just scratching the surface of understanding the human gut microbiome, the small world of organisms that live in our digestive system, and how this biological community impacts the two-way communication channel between our nervous and digestive systems. It is only in recent years that scientists  have had the capacity to research this relationship, and the results suggest a tremendous amount of promise for nutritional approaches to supporting mental and physical health.

a description of the connection between the brain and digestive system

The microbiology found in the human gut may contain over 1,000 different species of organisms (known so far) that support our well-being, when they are in balance. This relationship impacts immunity, bodily inflammation, the chemicals of our nervous system, and how well we absorb nutrition from our food. Consuming supplements with specific strains of gut bacteria has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Traditional diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, that significantly limit the consumption of processed foods and sugar, may positively impact the gut biome by providing nutrients that support beneficial species of microorganism over detrimental types. This is in contrast to the typical American diet that is primarily made up of processed foods, many of which have been shown to harm beneficial gut biology. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the chances of developing a neurological disorder by as much as 28% compared to other diets.

In clinical research, drawing strong causality between what we eat and mental health is complex and difficult. Despite this, the number of new studies seeking to understand this connection is growing, and may indicate one of the most important areas of focus in the healthcare field. This area of study also suggests significant overlap with the food and agricultural sectors. Local food systems can significantly contribute to equitable community access to a diet that contains the healthy foods that will support a flourishing microbiome. This in turn may lead to a reduction in the number of nutrition related diseases (diseases that between 2016 and 2021 cost the United States almost 9% of its Gross Domestic Product), stronger local economies, and healthier individuals and communities.

References

Christian, L. M. (2019). The gut microbiome and mental health: Taking baby steps. Brain Behavior and Immunity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.08.001

Grajek, M., Krupa-Kotara, K., Białek-Dratwa, A., Sobczyk, K., Grot, M., Kowalski, O., & Staśkiewicz, W. (2022). Nutrition and mental health: A review of current knowledge about the impact of diet on mental health. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.943998 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9441951/

Hayes, T. O. (2022, March 9). The Economic Costs of Poor Nutrition – AAF. AAF. https://www.americanactionforum.org/research/the-economic-costs-of-poor-nutrition/

Selhub, E., MD. (2022). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has funding available for farmers & ranchers to recover revenue loss from natural disasters and COVID-19. Check out the free and brief trainings at TXFED.org to determine your eligibility and prepare your application.

Emergency Relief Program Phase 2 (ERP2) – for eligible crop producers who experienced revenue loss from a qualifying natural disaster in 2020 and/or 2021 compared to 2018 or 2019, as elected by the producer.

 

 

Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) – for eligible crop and animal producers who experienced revenue loss from COVID-19 in 2020 compared to 2018 or 2019, as elected by the producer.

 

 

We’ve created eligibility self-assessments, application checklists & timelines, compiled all the application forms, and list additional direct technical assistance services to streamline your application process.

A farmer shared that the ERP2 training is “super awesome” and helped him get all of his documents together for the application.

Applications are due on July 14th, 2023!

Don’t delay, get started today!