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Sunday, September 24, 2023


City Hall farmers market brings organic charms to downtown

Students from rural areas of the country may not miss the charms of a farmers market, but while UH waits for Freshii to open in 2015 at the UC, those with free time on Wednesday afternoons can enjoy organic specialty foods, snacks and lunches at the City Hall Farmers Market, which began Sept. 17 after its summer hiatus.

The gentle rain didn’t deter Houstonians, who walked between the food trucks and tents to taste what vendors had to offer on the market’s first day of business after the hiatus.


Brenham Kitchens, run by father-son duo Brian and Justin Smith, offers specialty fruit-and-nut mixes and homemade sauces. | Jenae Sitzes/The Cougar

Brenham Kitchens is run by father-son duo Brian and Justin Smith. They emphasized the freshness of their dried fruit, berry and nut mixes and homemade sauces.

“No preservatives, we don’t use any of them,” Brian said. While he oversees the dried fruits and nuts, Justin handles the sauces.

Justin said the Tomatillo White Chocolate Salsa Verde is a favorite among customers, along with the more traditional garden salsa. The white chocolate lends a deceptive smoothness to what is otherwise a much runnier salsa verde and isn’t overpower by sweetness.

The real killer was the Heavenly Chocolate Sauce. It tasted like the perfect pie filling. The sauce is made with three parts dark chocolate to one part milk, Justin said. He recommended it with milk, or even poured over bacon.

The City Hall farmers market is convenient for people who work downtown, offering them a quick escape from the office and the chance to taste fresh, organic food.

“It’s my first time here,” said UH alumna Billy Jean, who was alone enjoying her lunch from the market. “I love it, I think it’s awesome.”

Other than food, the market also offers handmade luxuries, such as lavender in every form of accessory. For lovers of that fragrant, purple flower, Lavande is the perfect tent.


The Lavande tent displays an array of lavender products, from fragrant sprays to handmade soap. | Jenae Sitzes/The Cougar

“Are you prepared to be blown away?” Lavande vendor Chris Brennan asked shoppers as he opened a tin of lavender peach mango tea and waited for the aroma to make its impact.

The tent also sold traditional lavender sachets and body scrubs.

The Heart of Texas Olive Oil Co. tent, run by UH alumnus Danny Adams and his wife, Susan, is another must-see and features a variety of flavored olive oils and vinaigrettes. Every flavor is true to its name; the oils are softer and the vinaigrettes have a tangier base.

Students who have been to The Nook Cafe would recognize the Sinfull Bakery tent, manned by head baker Maxwell Fontanier. It offers organic, vegan treats “so good they’re sinful, but without the guilt.”

Fontanier said the City Hall farmers market brought organic, local foods to the inner city for people who have limited access. He compared it to the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market, a year-round market from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday behind 3000 Richmond at Eastside.

Anthropology junior Ashley Sanchez said she volunteers at the Urban Harvest market, often helping with the hard work of lifting watermelons.

“I love it. It’s a lot of work, but at the end of the day, you get a lot of free food,” Sanchez said.

Food trucks also visit the City Hall farmers market, including Churrasco, Juice Girl, It’s a Wrap and more.

For more information about the Urban Harvest farmers markets, visit

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