Beaumont Farmers’ Market opens Feb. 18

Jim LaBove and his wife, Dodie, are out under the pavi

Feb. 18 marks the beginning of the Beaumont Farmers’ Market’s eighth year. The market, located at the Beaumont Athletic Complex off College Street, will be officially open Saturday, Feb. 18, from 8-11 a.m.

Becki Stedman, who co-founded the Beaumont Farmers’ Market (BFM) with her friend, Sarah Parmer, said they will be there “every Saturday, rain or shine.”

“We’re going to be starting with winter vegetables, leafy greens,” Stedman said. “There may be some citrus left; you’ll start seeing broccoli, perhaps some Brussels sprouts, all the winter vegetables.”

This year, customers should expect to see the grass-fed longhorn beef from the Wild Earth Texas cattle company, located in LaBelle, in addition to tamales and handmade soaps, Stedman said. Local crafts will be featured the second Saturday of each month.

A group of Amish women from Spring, Louisiana, which is within the 150 mile radius that BFM requires, bring Amish bread and other wares.

“It’s killer,” Stedman said. “They work very, very hard, and they have some excellent product out there.”

Beaumont didn’t have a farmers’ market for about 20 years before Stedman and Palmer founded BFM, she said. They began the first season with six vendors and ended with 18. BFM averages 18-22 vendors per year. Stedman sees an average of 40 to 45 people who apply to sell throughout the year, since some come with specialized items such as strawberries or blueberries.

“It’s fresh; it’s locally grown,” Stedman said. “Venture away from your regular routine of grocery shopping just one time and see how you like it.”

In the meantime, Jim LaBove and his wife, Dodie, are out under the pavilion most Saturdays since the first of the year selling plants and grapefruit, as well as his books “Cotton’s Seafood” and “Sketches of My Cajun Life.”

“When my wife used to work for the bank, she would keep a bowl of grapefruit on her desk and give it away to customers,” since their tree produced so much, LaBove said. “Finally, somebody asked us, ‘Why don’t you guys just sell it?’ And so we did.”

They started Jim and Dodie’s Big Adventure. The LaBoves said that now most of the other vendors are their friends and being at the BFM is a big part of their social life.

Vendors can apply by e-mailing TexasBFM [at] gmail [dot] com or messaging the Beaumont Farmer’s Market page on Facebook. The application is online at www.beaumontfarmersmarket.org. The annual application fee is $20, and there is a $10 fee each time a vendor comes out to sell. The fees cover the permits, operating expenses, and renting the covered pavilion for the volunteer-run organization.

“This is directly for the community and the farmer; it is an act of love,” Stedman said. “All of us who go out on Saturdays, we love going out there. We like to have volunteers out there with our vendors.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can assist with farm visits, two-hour shifts on Saturdays, or photography and social media.

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