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Austin cultivates a spot on the list of top U.S. cities for winter farmers markets

Austin lands spot on list of the top cities for winter farmers markets

SFC farmers market
What tasty crops will you pick from local vendors at the market this weekend?  Sustainable Food Center/Instagram

For much of the country, winter means cold and snow and a whole lot of ick: Roads get icy, sidewalks get slushy, and everyone heads indoors, hibernating like bears, until spring.

Obviously, Austin doesn’t (usually) have this problem. One epic recent freeze aside, Austin’s temperate climate means life here goes on pretty much the way it does the rest of the year: wine on the patio, strolling SoCo, yoga in the park. 

And while Austinites didn’t need anyone to tell them this, it was cool all the same to wind up making the list of Lawnlove’s Best Warm Cities for Winter Farmers Markets, though many locals would argue a ranking of No. 32 is a hard row to hoe.

Lawnlove, a company that offers lawn and yard care and has an extensive blog on its website, ranked 101 of the biggest cities in the U.S., dividing them into warm and cold, which they determined based on the mildness of a city’s winter. To tally the availability of farmers markets, the team looked at USDA-registered farmers markets that operated at least once between November and March.

Austin’s overall ranking of No. 32 put it behind most other Texas cities and many large metros, including Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, and San Diego. But Austin topped Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida; a few spots in Alabama; and even the Lone Star State’s Fort Worth for the sheer availability of its farmers markets, along with its temperate climate. Austin ranked No. 20 overall for access, No. 25 for walkability, and No. 22 for climate.

Here’s a smattering of a few local farmers markets that are open during winter months:

Barton Creek Farmers Market in Austin has two locations, both open Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to producer and prepared foods, there are vendors offering jewelry, clothes, and gifts, making it a terrific one-stop shop for stocking the cupboards and finding that special something for a special occasion.

Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers Market Downtown runs year-round, rain or shine, at Republic Square each Saturday from 9 am-1 pm. Every week, shoppers can visit 75 vendors, including local farmers and ranchers, and enjoy some live music.

Sustainable Food Center’s Farmers Market at Sunset Valley is a good destination for shoppers wanting to avoid all the downtown hubbub, and also runs year-round, rain or shine, every Saturday from 9 am-1 pm at Toney Burger Center. The family-focused market features 35 weekly vendors offering up everything from in-season produce to pasture-raised meats and even locally made pastries and artisan goods.

Lone Star Farmers Market at the Hill Country Galleria is open to shoppers on Sundays from 10 am-2 pm year-round, and includes more than 40 vendor booths offering local produce and artisan foods.

Texas Farmers Market at Mueller is a local favorite, open every Sunday year-round from 10 am-2 pm at 2006 Philomena St. Scoop up some fresh veggies and artisan foods. The website even lists out vendors that are participating each week, so you can plan your market list accordingly. 

Other Texas cities also fared well on Lawnlove’s list. Houston ranked No. 4 and San Antonio came in at No. 6, while Dallas cracked the Top 30 at 29. Lubbock (20), Corpus Christi (31), and Fort Worth (35) also made the cut. 

Standout Texas markets

Pearl Market in San Antonio is held every weekend at the Pearl Brewery. This lively market brings together grower/producers unique to South Texas. Ranked one of the country’s top farmers markets by USA Today, the market is as much gathering spot as it is a chance to get local food and produce. Look for vendors such as South Texas Heritage Pork, Freshwater Farms, Alamo Gristmill, and Swift River Pecans. 

Urban Harvest Farmers Market in Houston, open every Saturday from 8 am to noon, is a standout. Head there for veggies, breads, honey, dairy products, meats, and more from more than 100 vendors who hail from a 180-mile radius around the city.

The Dallas Farmers Market at the Shed is open weekends and has a great newsletter that lets visitors in on who’s going to be there, as well as offering recipes and other foodie tips. Some vendors also set up shop at the nearby Market, which is open seven days a week.