By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — With a sudden swing into May, the countdown has begun for the grand, seasonal re-opening of Bertram’s hearty, all locally-grown Farmers Market.
Mark it down, May 17, but note that the market is moving from its traditional Friday afternoon timeslot to Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. Organizers said the day change provides visitors a more favorable time to leisurely enjoy the festive gathering.
While the day is changing, the market’s location remains the same. It will continue to be situated at its familiar picturesque location under an expansive canopy from a grove of mature oak trees at 1450 Hwy 29 next to the Bertram Plaza in the western end of town.
The Bertram Farmers Market will continue through the summer and into the fall as long as produce is available.
In only two years, Bertram’s Farmers Market has become a haven for fresh produce and fun developing a loyal and expanding following that is learning to arrive early for the best selection. Last summer, the market sold out nearly every week. In some instances, everything was gone within the first 90 minutes.
“Making fresh produce available is why we opened the market,” said Dickie Allen, who is Bertram’s mayor and co-sponsor and organizer of the event along with longtime Oatmeal friend Loy Ogden. “There’s nothing like fresh harvested produce and we wanted to give small local growers an opportunity to share in their harvest and have fun doing it.”
And as most everyone knows, organizers contend, it is hard to beat the nutritional benefits and taste of fresh produce.
This year, the market is adding live music to compliment the already festive atmosphere. A popular band from Austin, Silver Mine, is scheduled to perform.
“We meet a lot of wonderful people,” said Mayor Allen. “Although, don’t get me wrong. It’s a lot of work planting and taking care of our crops before we harvest them.”
And despite sparse rain, both are committed to bringing their homegrown produce to Bertram’s Farmers Market. It’s just been a little bit more challenging for the two in their expanded gardens.
Loy Ogden, with nearly 80 tomato plants, watermelons and antaloupes, put in a drip irrigation system and is harvesting rain water but is battling an abundance of rocks in his soil. He is looking forward to another bumper crop of tomatoes and cantaloupes, which have been all the rage in past seasons along with other popular produce.
Allen, who is toiling with hoses to water his long “crooked rows” of crops, is excited about the possibility of a good harvest of potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and zucchini. His red Pontiac potatoes are particularly going strong at this stage.
Both Allen and Ogden are working their own large garden without any help except for Allen who counts on the aid of his loyal friend, J.D. (aka John Deere) but they both agree they could use some help from Mother Nature with some blissful rains.
As in past years, a host of vendors including some new vendors from Liberty Hill will be joining Allen and Ogden with a variety of freshly harvested produce including squash, cucumbers, okra, peppers, onions, fresh garlic, plums, pears, peaches apricots and other fruits along with fresh herbs.
Among the steady stable of vendors from past seasons are Arlan Montgomery who offers a variety of produce, but specializes in onions including purple onions and sweet candy onions.
Aaron Bullock has been offering an assortment of vegetables, and Ken and Guileen Odiorn have presented tomatoes, peppers and homemade bread. Another regular vendor is J.D. French who has fresh vegetables, homemade bread, crafts and lemonade.
The Market has also offered locally produced jams, jellies and other homemade food products as well as different craft vendors.
Allen said vendors of all kinds including artisans are welcomed to be a part of the relaxed atmosphere of this small community farmers market, but he emphasized “original, homegrown and handmade.”
Interested vendors should call Allen at (512) 355-2796 or Ogden at (512) 657-1995.
Odgen invites everyone looking for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as other unique products to meet them under the shady oaks every Saturday beginning May 17. Besides abundant shade, there is ample room for vendors and parking.