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New vendors join the ranks of the Victoria County Farmers Market

By ALLISON MILES
June 4, 2013 at 1:04 a.m.

Miles and Nancy Thompson eye the fruits and vegetables at Maria Hernandez's Victoria County Farmers Market stand. Saturday was Hernandez's first time at the market, but she said she plans to return.

If you go

• WHAT: Victoria County Farmers Market

• WHERE: Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center parking lot, 2805 N. Navarro St.

• WHEN: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday

• FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 361-550-8377

A free-standing chalkboard advertised, in colorful scrawl, the tomatoes, onions and other foods that filled Maria Hernandez's tables. Meanwhile, under the shade of a canopy, round wooden baskets held her homegrown goodies.

"We wanted to go for a country look," the Ganado resident said, adjusting a basket of peppers. "Presentation is key."

Hernandez was one of two new vendors who joined the ranks at the Victoria County Farmers Market on Saturday, offering up fruits, vegetables and more to Crossroads residents.

The market recently opened for its summer season in front of the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.

For Hernandez, who works from home, the market was a chance to get out of the house and meet new people. She's sold at Ganado's farmers market in the past, she said, but wanted to expand into Victoria.

"There's been a great turnout," she said, glancing around at others' booths. "I'll come back."

Gardening is a new hobby - she said she's never before had a green thumb - but it's proved to be good stress relief. It also offers her a chance to teach others about healthy eating.

Hernandez's food is not certified organic, she said, but she grows it without chemicals or pesticides.

"I'm educating people as they come by," she explained. "It's healthier."

Jim Landolt, the day's other first-time vendor, ventured out with plans to sell his plants and flowers. The 82-year-old man in the bright green Converse sneakers has sold at Victoria Market Days before, he said, and decided to try his hand Saturday.

"It's a good market but sparse," he said, explaining he didn't have much luck that initial time out. "This is a good market for produce."

Landolt typically sells his plants wholesale, he said, but also had a garden he was using to grow foods for farmers markets. A dousing rain, however, flooded the garden out.

The man who lives about 15 miles east of Yoakum might not have sold out at Saturday's sale, but he found himself in pleasant company.

Linda, his brown and black dachshund, snoozed inside his van.

"She's my little assistant," he said, giving the pup an affectionate belly rub.

Veronica Riehs, president of the Victoria County Farmers Market Association, said she was glad to see new vendors making their way in to sell. Other potential vendors signed up earlier in the season but have not yet made their way out.

"The drought might have something to do with that," she said, noting new vendor registration is ongoing. "It's been rough."

Riehs wasn't the only one glad to have new people joining on.

Nancy Thompson, who shopped Saturday with her husband, said she's a faithful farmers market attendee.

The retired teacher, a Michigan native, said she grew up around fresh produce. After her move to Port Lavaca years ago, she kept that tradition going.

"I don't care if I pay a little more for it. It's better food," she said. "I want to support the local farmers, and I want them to keep coming out."

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