spotlght on LOCAL
spotlight on LOCAL
Cornering the Market story and photography by CYNTHIA J. DRAKE
hen Yolanda Nagy was a young girl growing up in Detroit,
Nora Chovanec, deputy director of
her family had a Saturday morning tradition of walking to
the Texas Farmers’ Market, says she’s
the Eastern Market to collect fresh produce.
inspired by Nagy’s enthusiasm.
Back home, her mother shooed her out of the kitchen while transforming
“Yolanda is truly such an incredible
those ingredients into pots of savory chicken and dumplings, collard greens
friend to our markets,” she says. “She
or rum-spiked fruitcakes stuffed with dried fruit from the farmers market
is not just a champion for the products,
during the holidays. “It weighed about 50 pounds,” Nagy says, laughing.
but the people who put their heart and soul into this work.”
She reflects on those memories now while walking through the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller, stopping to chat with vendors, pulling
In coming months, Nagy plans to offer guided tours of local farmers markets,
many in for a quick masked hug or taking a promotional shot for her
as well as coaching vendors to help beef up their social media presence.
@eatin_and_sippin_locally Instagram channel.
Her biggest dream: a farmers market of her own, where she hopes to
Nagy’s mission, which started with a hobby podcast in 2018, is to
showcase women farmers and bring even more people together at
showcase the hard-working farmers and vendors who show up at
markets around central Texas, rain or shine, pandemic or not. “There’s a misperception that farmers markets are only for rich folks,” says Nagy, stopping at a favorite salsa stand to ask how business is going. In fact, for her the best part about a market is the vibrant community
Yolanda’s Tips for Maximizing the Market 1. Bring two bags. One for dry goods and an insulated bag to keep
and goodwill that arises when people take a moment to look the people
perishables (salsas, ice creams, cheeses, etc.) cold.
who grow their food in the eye — and she’s happy to help bolster that
2. Cover the whole market. Get a lay of the land before making
community and make it more accessible to everyone. While many people in the food industry were thrown for a loop by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nagy (formerly a restaurant server who’d been laid off in March) decided to use the time to help drive interest in local farmers markets, where she knew vendors would be struggling. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur — I had thousands of ideas,” she says. “But I knew whatever it was going to be was going to be helping people.” “I wanted people to know the vendors, because I figured if they knew the vendors, they would enjoy the market more,” says Nagy. “I just enjoyed talking to [the vendors] — I started learning about who they were, their backgrounds, their families, and how they got started, and I wanted to share those stories with other people.” She now fills her Instagram channel with weekly live cooking shows, giveaways, and insider tips, connecting her followers to Austin area
your selections. 3. Use the Double Up program. SNAP and WIC recipients can double their LoneStar funds at select farmers markets, stretching your dollars even farther for fresh, local produce. 4. Don’t be afraid to talk to vendors. Ask them how to prepare their items. “They eat their own products,” Nagy says. “They’ll tell you exactly how to cook it; how to prepare it.” 5. Take advantage of preorders and curbside. Some markets offer pre-ordering and even curbside service — particularly handy during the pandemic to help with social distancing. 6. Check websites, newsletters — and Eatin’ and Sippin’ Locally on Instagram. Check these resources in advance so you know about new vendors, updates to hours and upcoming events.
farmers and producers. A recent livestream featured recipes compiled
7. Ask for ‘seconds.’ Occasionally farmers will have less-than-
using ingredients from Wahoo’s Seafood Co., F-Stop Farm, the
perfect produce available at a significant discount. You just have
Sourdough Project and Mamo’s Garlic Sauce.
22 / EdibleAustin.com
photos taken at Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller
EdibleAustin.com / 23