Mickey Morales making breakfast
On a cold January day nearly four years ago, Mickey Morales and a few friends set up a small farm market in a parking lot on the edge of Garden Oaks. Without a media blitz or mainroad location, it seemed unlikely to thrive. But Mickey had learned the secret of success from running other markets in town:
Keep it small, keep it honest and make it part of the community.
Over the intervening years the Farm Stand at Petrol Station has grown into a Saturday morning destination for many people in the Garden Oaks, Oak Forest area and the surrounding subdivisions. It has become a gathering place where they can have a great cup of coffee, a breakfast taco and a conversation with their neighbors while they are shopping for food.
For a small market it offers a surprising diversity of products from a combination of regular and guest vendors with everything from Indian food to wooden spoons, but where it really shines is with the locally grown, better-than-organic produce.
The produce you will find at the Farm Stand will be riper than store-bought, much more recently picked and quite likely to be of varieties that can only be grown by a small farmer with their hands in the dirt. Expect to encounter caterpillar damage on the cabbage, dirt on the carrots and blemishes on the fruit, but the textures and flavors will make supermarket equivalents seem boring in comparison.
Cathy Sullivan selling farm-fresh eggs
Cathy Sullivan of Sullivan’s Happy Heart Family Farm is a fixture at the market, and she has a motto: “Healthy plants come from a balanced, healthy soil.” She has been practicing organic and sustainable methods for almost 20 years and, like most small farmers, she grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Unlike the produce in the store, her crops are seasonal, picked at the perfect moment, rarely more than a day or two away from the soil or the tree where they grew, and are bursting with flavor. Cathy also sells the best eggs I have found in Houston, and not just chicken eggs; at some times of the year she will have duck and guinea fowl eggs too.
This is the season in Houston when the farm bounty is probably at its best. There will be the first of the cabbages, broccoli and winter greens like chard and kale. The root crops will be arriving too, with radishes, beets and—if the worms did not get them—sweet potatoes. However, what I have been waiting for most is the citrus season. The first of the lemons and limes are coming in, with oranges and Satsumas on the way, and maybe the Texas Ruby Red grapefruit will be ready before Christmas this year.
a real neighborhood market
So, come out and have breakfast, a cup of coffee and a chat. Try to bring a bunch of small bills, a reusable shopping bag and your sense of adventure.
Visit the Farm Stand at Petrol Station, 948 Wakefield St.; Houston 9am–1pm every Saturday that is not Christmas Day, rain or shine, and get a taste of Houston at its best.