Whether you’re starting a new farmers market or building shared use commercial kitchen to support your downtown, the Council of Development Finance Agencies’ (CDFI) Food System Finance Initiative has excellent research and webinar series to guide you.

Keep in mind that “food initiatives” aren’t always about local farms or Texas agriculture. Lots of “local food” work includes supporting food trucks and other businesses that, while they provide jobs and economic activity (and that’s great), their ingredients are usually imported from outside Texas and outside the U.S.

Be clear about your goals and values. Write them down and use them to direct your decisions. If, for example, you want to support local farmers, then be sure your development incentives require outcomes that support farmers. If you want to support healthy food initiatives, be clear about that! While that bakery make smell great in your downtown, think about what healthy food will be available.

Most importantly, do it! Use local food, Texas grown food, to bring energy and economic vitality to your town, neighborhood, or community.

CDFA Food Systems Finance Webinar Series: Neighborhood Revitalization Through Food Systems Finance. The full list of food system financing resources on the CDFI site:

August 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week!  Farmers markets are one of the safest places to shop so grab your mask and get on over to your local market this week! The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) is honored to be the new statewide partner of the Farmers Market Coalition. When you become a member of TCLF you support our work to provide technical assistance for these critical access points for local food. Farmers markets are amazing!

When you shop at a farmers market nearly 100% of your dollar goes to the farmer. When you shop at a traditional retailer, only 15% goes to the farmer.

It felt so good to see 100 Texas Farm Veggie Boxes safely make their way home with folks on Wednesday afternoon!  The veggies were harvested Sunday and Monday, the boxes were packed Tuesday in Houston at the fabulous Common Market food hub, and they arrived at Elgin’s Firewild on Main St. on Wednesday morning. Prepaid orders were picked up curbside at designated pickup times to maintain social distancing and keep everyone healthy. Every ten boxes sold enabled us to donate a box to a vulnerable family.

Thanks to the support from the community, we were able to fund a donation of 10 boxes to the Elgin Community Health Center! Their wonderful staff identified 10 families with children who have diet-related illness to receive them.  The staff picked up their boxes Wednesday morning and got them to families that day. True to our mission during these difficult times, we plan to continue to grow this program and our capacity to provide increasing numbers of vulnerable families with fresh, nutrient rich food grown by Texas farmers. Every child who is healthier because of our collective work with you is a win for all of us.

This week’s Texas Farms Veggie Boxes this week included healthy portions of beautiful fresh broccoli, heirloom lettuce, green curly kale, green cabbage and sweet potatoes. Yum!  Each week, the farmers will select the best of seasonal vegetables and harvest them for Texas families.

This program is made possible in part by The Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of sustainable, local farm foods.  They typically sell wholesale to schools and restaurants, all of which are now closed, as you know. Veggie Box purchases ensure that many Texas farmers will continue to have income and that our Texas food system can withstand the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

Every Thursday,, we will be opening up orders for the following Wednesday’s veggie delivery and pick-up. For Wednesday, April 1, we have increased the total amount of boxes available for sale to 170.  We are currently working to make boxes available to SNAP (Lone Star Card) recipients.

To order, please visit the Texas Local Food Store.

Texas farmers who sell to restaurants, schools, hospitals have seen their orders vanish due to the COVID-19 crisis.  Meanwhile, plenty of fresh vegetables are in the fields and plenty of people need fresh food!  The Texas Center for Local Food is partnering with The Common Market food hub, Elgin Local Food Action Team, and FireWild Catering to pack these yummy vegetables into family size produce boxes and get them to you.  

The Texas Farm Veggie Boxes will be sold online and available for pick up in downtown Elgin, Texas once each week for the next 10 weeks (through May 27).  No delivery is available.  This is a pilot project so we might have some kinks!  We’re doing our best, as you are, to come together for our families and those most vulnerable.

Box price is $32 and the proceeds will go toward providing Texas Farm Veggie boxes to the most vulnerable families in the Elgin area.

As of March 22, only 80 boxes per week are available. Order yours today!  If this week is a success, we can get more boxes each week.  Should we get more? Add a comment below and let us know.

Order your Texas Veggie Box here 

Together.. we are moving forward!

Farmers and Ranchers: Here are software resources for taking pre-orders online and either delivering or having your customers pickup at the market or another location. Some of this software is pretty good and some is not great at all. Check reviews and be clear about what your farm business needs. Please add comments below to share information.

WEBINAR: APRIL 24, 2020 E-Commerce During COVID-19: Opportunities for Food Producers to Make Direct Market Sales Online – from the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association.


Local Food Marketplace – comprehensive including farm management, traceability and sales. Well tested software used by many many farmers.

Vinder – Plenty of potential here for quick low cost startup for farmers. Add your product availability, sell it and distribute it pre-paid at pickup locations of your choice including your farmers market. New and getting better.

SnackShare – Austin Texas only. delivers CSAs for GreenGate Farms and New Leaf Farm (both near Austin). Delivers to selected Austin zip codes only as of March 2020. newish, very well funded; they seem to have done a thorough needs analysis prior to launch. We’ll keep watching and would like to hear your comments below. from the fabulous Small Farm Central, a leader in CSA management software for over a decade.

Open Food Network

Software information in general

From Oregon Tilth webinar March 2020. Online Sales Platforms for Farmers

Direct Sales Platforms for Farmers (PDF) – National Young Farmers Coalition

Selling Real Farm Products in a Virtual Marketplace (2009) – Cornell

Additional Resources (thank you Oregon Tilth for the summary)

Could you take 10-15m for this feedback? The Texas Center for Local Food has been part of a group working on a draft food charter for central Texas and we’ve been asked to gather feedback from folks around the region. This draft charter is intended as a general statement outlining the intentions of the (future) signers for our region’s food system. 

The Draft Charter is below and the short SurveyMonkey survey is here. All questions are optional. Thank you! -Sue Beckwith

Draft Central Texas Food Charter
Do you see an important gap in the sustainable agriculture information available today? Do you know of information from SARE-funded research or education projects that could help fill this gap if it were widely available in an easy-to-use information product? If so, SARE wants to hear from you! [SARE is Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education].

Please help SARE Outreach meet the needs of today’s farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators by submitting your ideas for new or enhanced information products using the link below by March 1.

  Submit your product idea here!

Submissions will be prioritized by the SARE Outreach Steering Committee for development based on alignment with SARE Outreach’s selection criteria and capacities. Please note:This survey is intended to assess information needs and opportunities only. Submission or acceptance of product concepts does not constitute a request for or guarantee of funding to develop the product.

Please contact SARE Outreach at if you have questions or comments about this survey. Visit for more information about resources available from SARE Outreach.

Here we go into a new decade and even amidst the tumult in our world, here at the Texas Center for Local Food, we find hope as we move forward. Sure there’s been some serious yuk this past year and we’ve also seen sprouts of new ideas and new collaborations that – if we nurture them together – will flourish in the days ahead. Who makes our society if not each of us? So let’s go….


We’ll give you news you can use and we’ll stay in better touch with you. We’ll encourage you to tell us what you think using our social media and our website comments. We exist to serve you. Let us know what you need and we’ll do our level best to make it happen. World peace? Ok, let’s work on that. Texas farmers and ranchers earning a decent living? Yes, that’s the ticket. Healthy food for everyone in Texas? Absolutely and this heavy lift requires us to row in essentially the same direction.

Our mission is centered on increasing demand for healthy local food so farmers and ranchers can earn a decent living. We’re making the pie bigger through our K-5 Farm-to-Kids Texas program. We teach young children in Elgin Texas where food comes from through farm tours and experimental learning and they prepare the food and eat it. Hands on, real world stuff for kids and their families. This increases current and future demand for Texas family farmers’ food. Oh yea and it’s all aligned with the Texas Science Education standards. Yum!

We’re working with the University of Texas at Arlington on a cool project to improve logistics for small family farmers. Farmers spend a lot of time driving to deliver great food to customers like restaurants, grocers, farmers markets and you. They also have to be on the phone a lot to make that next sale. So …. yes, you’ve got it.. they run out of time and have to make calls while they drive. Well, no one wants that, so we’re working with a team of engineers at UT Arlington to understand how a routing app or an Uber-type app might help farmers do deliveries using less time and saving them money. We’ll be piloting various possibilities with farmers in Central Texas and in Alabama in 2020. Of course tech won’t solve everything and we’re open to any solution to this gnarly farmer problem.

How do we get more people to buy healthy food from Texas farms and ranches? in 2020, we’ll dive deep into this… is it that folks don’t know where they can buy? are farmers markets too inconvenient? is the price too high? If HEB carried healthy local food, would more people buy it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.. so please drop us a line today. Where do you buy your food? What would it take for you to buy more food from Texas family farmers?

Thank you for your continued support and for joining us in creating a year of healthy Texans and the family farms who feed us! Not a member yet? Join us now and share your appreciation for Texas family farmers and ranchers.