Downtown Farmers’ Market Bright Spot for Vendors

Eliana Legatt, Staff Writer

The Sustainable Food Center’s (SFC) Austin Downtown Farmers’ Market has a homey environment, helpful people and local vendors. It is a delightful way to spend a Saturday outdoors. There is a large array of food choices, and some vendors even leave out water bowls for dogs. Vendors sell bread, produce, animal products, clothes and candles, among other items.

The SFC is a nonprofit organization in Central Texas that brings together local vendors and producers to sell their products. They support regenerative agriculture and work with small and mid-sized family farmers and other small business owners.

Casper Fermentables, a fermentation business that was established in 2016, has been selling at the farmers’ market downtown for three years. The business was established by Ben Hollander, who is also the head brewer for the company. Casper Fermentables mainly makes kombucha and fermented vegetables but has recently started selling bread as well. The kombucha is made from hand-harvested, farm-direct tea from Nannuo Mountain in the Yunnan province of China. 

Hollander, who received a Bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Texas, said that fermented drinks can be good for your health. While Casper Fermentables used to sell its products to restaurants, the pandemic has caused financial hardships, and the farmer’s market has been a saving grace for Hollander’s business. Casper Fermentables can be found at the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown, the Lakeline Farmers’ Market, the Mueller Farmers’ Market and the Pedernales Farmers’ Market.

The Austin Honey Company is another vendor at the market. Its bees live on farms within a 30-mile radius of the downtown area. The bees pollinate the city as well as the farms they are located on. Their relationship with farmers is a symbiotic one, meaning that both the bees and the farmers benefit. The bees are offered a healthy lifestyle, while the farmers get fertilized plants, and on top of that, the honey company gets honey. The Austin Honey Company sells various products that originate from the bees, including honey, lip balms and candles. They can also be found on Etsy. 

Sanford Sourdough Bakery is owned by Dave and Meriann Sanford and operates frequently at the market. They report having spent years perfecting their bread recipe, owning a wild yeast starter for over 14 years that moved with them from San Francisco. Sanford Sourdough Bakery makes and sells many baked goods, but their focus is San Francisco-style sourdough. They are found at many farmers’ markets in Austin and at a permanent location in Round Rock. The bakery opened on Jan. 10 of this year.

Joe Diffie is the founder of Joe’s Microgreens. The company started by turning urban food waste from local restaurants into usable compost. In the last few years, over 200 tons of urban food waste has been kept from landfills because of the work of the company. The business expanded to agriculture in 2015 and now grows microgreens using sustainable techniques, such as ebb-and flow benches, to be able to reuse water.

The SFC Farmers’ Market supports small businesses, the environment and its customers with many healthy foods. Many vendors solely rely on the farmers’ market for income, making it an ideal place for Austinites to support local businesses. Masks and other COVID-19 regulations are well-enforced for both vendors and customers. It is located in Republic Square at 422 Guadalupe St., 78701 and takes place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.