Hand crafted items share the common ingredient of being made from the heart. While a typical working day begins with a commute to the office for many around Houston, a home kitchen or shared warehouse space is where a love of cooking and creating starts for many farmers market vendors.
After countless hours of planning, perfecting recipes and ingredients, preparing and packaging, their passion ends up in jars, wrapping, cartons, boxes and bottles. Refining their goods is a process and a journey for the culinary artisans who produce delicious items to sell every Thursday at the Westchase District Farmers Market.
“The products our vendors display on tables under tents represent one thing: this is something special made by one person for another,” said John Carey, farmers market manager. “Our shoppers purchase items with an exciting sense of discovery that they are taking home something unique and original.”
Anastasia Taggart began making cold-pressed juices because her body needed it and she thinks yours does too. Taggart had a near death experience after she caught a parasite in Cambodia. It was the eye-opening moment that made her carefully consider everything she was eating. She sources ingredients that provide natural healing to the body. Taggert is a firm believer on the role that fresh enzymes and nutrients play in cleansing, hydrating and detoxing the body. Charcoal Kick-Off, Nut Milk, and Melon Crush are among the juice flavors Taggert bottles for the market.
“When I first started, I really didn’t know about all the bottling and the stickers,” said Taggart. “I tried using stickers I bought at Office Depot and that was a nightmare. It took me six to eight months to figure out packaging.” With one problem solved, Taggart then found a bottling company that uses recycled goods to source her bottles and packaging. She also began applying stickers with nutritional information. The entire process of perfecting her brand took an entire year. Taggart is based in The Woodlands where she operates out of a community kitchen.
At 7 a.m. Joyce Garza is in her apron with an arsenal of baking pans and measuring cups occupying every inch of counter space. The aroma swirling around her kitchen makes her mornings magical and memorable. “It gives me a picture of what my customer might be experiencing when they first taste something I made,” said Garza. Her creations look decadent but are plant-based and vegan. Garza’s Oreo Brownies and gluten-free sugar chocolate covered cake are concoctions that satisfy cravings and dietary restrictions.
While Garza eyes healthy, her business partner and husband David keeps the final product sustainable with biodegradable and compostable packaging. “Food is our love language,” said Garza.
Patty’s Cakes and Pies
Peach Cobbler in a jar is intended to stop you in your tracks while you browse the market. Buttery, peachy goodness from grandmother’s recipe is what Patty’s Cakes and Pies owner Patricia Nubine calls it. Nubine creates banana bread and signature banana pudding made from scratch. They’re her best-sellers and she jars plenty of them. Her work starts bright and early at 5:30 a.m.
“I like to get started early because my mind is fresh and I have my customers in mind so I am in tune with requests I had from previous weeks,” said Nubine. “I bake to the needs of my customers which means I’m doing a lot of gluten-free and sugar-free items as well as vegan options. My inspiration for baking is that I like to bring back nostalgic memories from one’s childhood,” said Nubine.