Vendors set up stalls in the pocket park across from Nixon City Hall early in the morning on Saturday, Oct. 3. This was the second farmers market hosted by the city, organized in the hopes of bringing more people to Nixon’s downtown area every first Saturday of the month, according to City Secretary Deborah Bustamante.
“It was just something that we wanted to do,” Bustamante said. “Our stores are closed downtown because of COVID, they said there was just a lack of traffic, and I understand because people are afraid to come out. We still are. We don’t want it.”
“Our community has had several deaths for a community this size, people we knew and we love. I would like to see, and the city would like to see, our downtown open again and I’m sure that we can bring business.”
Vendors purchased spots in the small park for $5 each, to sell items such as seasonal decorations, chickens, eggs, clothing, fruits and vegetables.
Renee Trip, who previously operated the Stockdale Mission and currently operates out of Blanco, offers discounted or free produce. Bustamante said that the day before the farmer’s market, Trip had delivered items such as bread to those living in senior housing.
“I have 18-pound boxes that are just fruit, or just vegetables or a mix,” Trip said. “And by selling those, or paying it forward, that enables me to help families who cannot.”
Trip said that she gets her produce from River City Produce in San Antonio, for a rate that allows her to sell them at low prices and still make a small profit. Her 18-pound boxes of mixed produce, vegetables, or fruits are priced at $18. In a borrowed van, Trip operates what she calls a mobile grocery store, meeting the needs of people living in areas without access to fresh produce.
“Stockdale actually lost their Lowe's,” Trip said. “They do have a Dollar General, but that eliminated things fresh and the meat market. And then COVID hit, and I still have a lot of friends down there. I had a few reach out to me about possibility of reopening the Stockdale Mission.”
Rather than reopen the Stockdale Mission, Trip said her faith led her to the conclusion that a mobile grocery store may better meet such needs. Trip is working towards getting greater access to fresh produce for people in the Nixon, Smiley and Pandora area.
“I think the mobile market will continue,” Trip said. “I wasn't necessarily setting out to hit farmers markets like this. But as long as it's these little towns, I'm going to do that.”
Trip said questions, as well as “needs or wants,” can be directed to her via text at 830-477-6404 or email@example.com
Leesville locals Missy Dierks and Charlie Deschiel brought their seasonal arrangements, handmade wood burned frames, leather journals and bath products to the farmers market. They have a booth at Wild Goose Chase in Gonzales, where they’re known as Pure Grace. Deschiel is a trained floral designer who uses her skills to create arrangements, such as the Christmas-themed ones she sold at the farmer’s market.
“With COVID all the little community fairs or our you know, little events, they shut down,” Dierks said. “This is the first one that I've been to in probably a whole year since the Leesville Country Fair. And you know, it was cancelled this year, so was Come and Take It.”
Dierks said being able to attend the farmers market was a welcome return to being present in the community.
“It's absolutely wonderful,” Dierks said. “You know, I've been missing getting to go to these kinds of things. It hadn't really kept us at home. But all these things got canceled, so we didn't get to do it. We didn't get to go to them.”
Barbara Jewett, a Nixon local, was offering textiles as well as sprouted plants such as flowers, pear tomatoes and red bell peppers. She described herself as a lifelong crafter, and said the farmers market provided a safe, fun and local way to socialize amid the pandemic.
“I think as people come out of hibernation, if you will, from all of that health goings on, it provides a safe, fun, local way to get out and socialize,” Jewett said. “And I think that aspect is as important as finding what you might need at a farmers market.”
Jewett said she has already reserved her spot for the farmer’s market in November, with the expectation of bringing different seedlings and harvested vegetables.
“We reserved our table for November and I'm sure as things ramp back up, and more people come out, if we keep coming, people will remember us or know where we are,” Jewett said.