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A Farmers Market with a Mission to Nourish and Educate the Community

Season 2: Episode 38


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Located in Humble, TX, Fall Creek Farmers Market is the perfect place to pick up produce and fresh foods while learning more about sustainable agriculture. Jonathan and Andrea, the husband-and-wife duo behind the market, integrate integrity and education about sustainable farming and the importance of food quality into everything they do. Reviewer Forest B. shares what stood out during his visits to the market and what keeps him coming back.

From the Yelp Blog: Learn how to effectively educate and engage customers to turn them into regulars and positively impact your community.

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. On Behind the Review I pick a review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur and the reviewer about the story and business lessons behind their interactions.

This week, we are excited to feature Fall Creek Farmers Market, a farmers market in Humble, TX that promotes healthy and wholesome eating within their community.

FOREST: The way I learned about the Fall Creek Farmers Market is through the Market Manager for North Houston, Brittany B. There was an event there and I love Farmers Markets. I travel over to Walter County every once in a while for Farmer’s Markets, and this one was relatively close by.

So I got out, I got a chance to meet the organizer. All of the people who are there are very, very personable and high quality. So I attended the first event and I’ve gone back several times.

EMILY: That’s Forest B, telling us how he first discovered the Fall Creek Farmers Market, a spot that he now frequents. Let’s hear Forest’s review.

FOREST:  I love a farmer’s market, but I hadn’t found the right one since moving back to Texas over a decade ago, but this is it. All of the vendors were so personable, willing to share advice and their specific stories. I particularly enjoyed the cultural diversity. So much to learn at each booth. But my buying spree was limited to items that could be eaten on site since I’d forgotten to bring a cooler for the take home items.

I started at DV eight coffee roasters where I had a Colombian blend. It was called a Lost Pinos and all the flavors and experience was there. Also serving a number of app empanadas. I had the beef empanadas and the apple empanadas, and that provided a great breakfast to go along with the coffee. I walked around for about an hour or so, and I was ready for another snack.

So I got some pork egg rolls and chicken egg rolls from Egg O Rolls, Vietnamese Cuisine. And I followed that by dessert from Frostbite. They sell Italian ice, and I had the Long Star Lemon, Mockingbird Mango, and the Saddle of Strawberry. They tend to sell them in trios—all were good.

I look forward to my next visit where I can eat prepared foods and take home some fresh foods and produce from the other vendors.

EMILY: I love this review! Forest shared some of the highlights of his visit, and pointed to the diversity of the vendors and the atmosphere of the market itself. I sat down with the owners of the market, Jonathan and Andrea Haskin. to further dig into the story of the market, and exactly how they made this space that fosters community.

JONATHAN: Yeah, so how this started. Initially around, let’s say 2015-2016, we took a pretty deep dive into foods, right? Local foods, grocery store items, just food in general via Netflix documentaries, things like that. And what we found was that we didn’t really have anything super duper quality in our community, in our area.

And we found ourselves traveling far and wide just for quality food, local foods and farmers. And 2019, well 2017, we sat down with our girls and we thought about what it looks like and how does it feel? And I was thinking more of a global approach, but with the local heart, right? And my wife was like, well, hey, I don’t know what to do with a grocery store, you know, like do I need to quit and go work for some, you know, big chain?

Look, let’s host a farmer’s market, get to know the farmers, build a team, and then see if the community would even embrace something like this. And they did, right? So 2019, August 4th, we launched our first concept, Fall Creek Farmers Market. And it took off, right? The community embraced it.

We got closer to our food source and we wanted people to get healthy and to learn why it’s important to know where your food is coming from and why to buy local.

EMILY: Jonathan and Andrea wanted to create community around food, and more importantly locally sourced foods. And they wanted to work with vendors who were also committed to bringing high-quality ingredients and education around their products and food source. They also share that power and impact of healthy eating. What they’ve created goes beyond the physical farmers market. It’s a network of people who now think of shopping differently!

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: Early on, we were setting up, cleaning up, we were sweeping out the space, the parking lot. We were blowing the water to make sure every puddle was dried up before the market opened. We had our girls making bracelets. It was a beautiful thing to have them make each kid that comes into the market a personal bracelet.

That was our thing when we started out. And it was amazing and wonderful and beautiful. We got to know the community. And we got to meet everybody and their little puppies. It was just an amazing start, you know? What our first days look like and how they look now – our girls have grown up quite a bit since our first start, so we’re not really having them making bracelets anymore.

But hosting and getting to know the community has been the most special thing about it all. Connecting and, you know, counting on those interactions and just really developing a closeness, with our neighbors.

That feels wonderful. That is the best takeaway aside from the food. But yes, our food and our food choices have changed and developed a lot since we first started.

EMILY: Jonathan and Andrea have perfected a routine to make sure their market goes smoothly every time it opens. By preparing their whole team on how to best cultivate an environment where there are high standards for their products, while also maintaining the space as one that encourages community learning, Jonathan and Andrea have been able to create an ecosystem that speaks to their brand. And lives their overarching mission.

Despite being a gathering place for such different vendors and customers, the team behind Fall Creek Farmers Market has created one harmonious community center that really does speak to everyone. But the process of doing it is definitely not easy.

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: We prepare like none other right throughout the week – engagement, being very responsive online, allowing everyone to know what’s coming up, what’s there.

We encourage them to bring their grocery lists out. We give them a list of vendors and what they’re going to have that day. A lot of the times, depending on what season it is, the produce changes and so they can create their own meal ideas off of what the produce is going to be, right? A lot of times it’s something that they see a lot of times we want to increase their palate, increase their health and it’s going to be a little something different right? Something more exotic. And we love it.

But the preparation is key, right? I’m out there two prior to each market. I don’t leave till everyone is gone. I make sure you know, we’re good stewards right with the space and yeah, just preparing have systems in place where anyone could step in that role get trained and able to do it.

I just love being out there. We’re so personable. It’s a great experience and people want to see the owners. People want to feel us. People want to know our story. They want to know, ‘hey, have you tried this before?’ I’m like, yeah. We have to sample everything. We do site visits and you know, they have insurance, they’re registered like, ‘oh wow, this is legit.’

I’m like, yeah, it really is. And, they’re just surprised, right? Because it’s not a show, it’s not an event. This is a real place to buy food, and it should be daily, right? Our markets, they mirror kind of like the French, European style markets. Even the markets in all continents. Actually, you know, in some parts of America, we do it well, but I think that mindset is trickling down south now.

And, I’m so happy to, you know, be a part of that movement, right?

EMILY: Jonathan and Andrea make sure that the vendors they bring into the market are equally as passionate and dedicated to the “movement” of getting closer to your food source and a balanced mindset about wellness. Each of their vendors contribute to their overall mission, and the team they’ve built has made bringing an education around food to their community top of mind.

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: They live it as we do. So as we shop the market, as we, you know, engage with the community and with the food itself, our health journey looks different, right? How we look, how we think, how we talk, how we walk, our image itself, right? And it starts from the inside. And we are really, really passionate about immersing ourselves into the market and getting that experience and we are very very selective with who we decide to allow a part of our team and they have to be knowledgeable. 90% of them this is their full time job, right? Farming and ranching is full time and they’re serious about it. And they’re very well versed.

We have a lot of degreed people in agriculture. They take classes at Texas A&M annually. They even give courses, right? And they do educational courses. They are very transparent. They allow you to come to the farm and visit to make sure you understand where your food is from and not just taking it from us, right, at face value.

And so, with that being said, it’s an education and information type of market, first and foremost, without any pressure. And it’s very important for us to be consistent with quality. So when you do transition to buying local and say, ‘Oh, that’s what he meant.’ And you go home and you do your Google searches and you watch your Netflix documentaries and everything like that.

You’re like, ‘Oh wow. That’s what they were saying. Oh, I get it.’ And it’s up to us to be there to welcome that type of mindset.

EMILY: Jonathan and Andrea have created something that reflects the beauty of their community. They explain that the open area of the neighborhood can be seen in their market. And while Jonathan and Andrea see themselves and the market as there to help the community evolve their mindsets and lifestyle. The relationship is totally reciprocal. The community has helped create the beautiful and welcoming setting in which their farmers market can thrive.

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: So we live in a beautiful community in Fall Creek. And in Fall Creek, it is massive trees, lots of shaded areas, there’s a golf course, and there’s, you know, loads of trails to walk. You’ll see people walking their dogs, running, jogging. It is a beautiful community with lots of outdoor activity. So you’ll always see people and, you know, activity going on with kids, young and old.

Everybody’s there. Dogs – yep, yes, lots of pups are making it through the market and bringing their owners to the market. So it feels good to see that early on Sunday mornings. People are walking over, driving over, biking over. It is an amazing thing to see all of our neighbors out. You know, people think that because it is such a beautiful community that it’s closed off, but it’s really open to the public.

It’s for everyone in the surrounding areas. From Houston, to Kingwood to everything that’s around us. It’s open and they love it. They love it, Emily. They have totally embraced it for what it is and what it is a grocery store, right? It’s a place to get closer to your food source. So when you come in, you’ll be greeted by everyone – very personal experience. ‘High quality’ as Forrest said and he was spot on with that.

Yeah, so the grass, the beef, the mushrooms, the wild caught seafood, the local honeys, the seasonal local produce. We have hot food there of course, we have places to sit down. We do yoga every Sunday, we’ve incorporated a recycle program which is amazing and awesome.

We’re very sustainable, environmentally sound, and thoughtful about that. It’s just an amazing experience in all, right? A buying experience and just an experience to get educated and informed on why it’s important to know about your food. And yeah, it’s actually beyond right just the supporting issue.

During the pandemic, COVID, we were about six months in. We started August 4th, 2019. COVID really hit, you know, the second week of March, of 2020. And we didn’t know what was going to happen, but we did know that we were essential because we are registered with the county, right? And our market is a registered farmer’s market.

It’s not a craft show. It’s not a bake sale. So you can actually come and get your pastured eggs and things like that and real items. And so with that being said, we were deemed as essential. And at that point, people really saw it for what it was. And people trusted us.

Knowing where your food is from is a big deal. It’s like getting a root canal, brain surgery, or heart surgery. Like, it’s very important once you realize the importance of food. And people, they started to get it. And I know at a certain point, one of our faithful, she was like, Hey, you know, I’m doing about 80 percent of my shopping here at the market.

I’m like, wow, that’s amazing! So, it feels really good to be able to serve, right? And to be able to give them access as we have it.

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: That’s why I’m so proud and I love our market so much is because of our team and their educational background and how they’re all in. And it’s just amazing to see it.

And it’s so the aha moments with our community and our customers and everything. It’s like, Oh, wow, I get it. I never knew that. Why didn’t I learn this in school? No one ever told me that. And these are people that you would assume, just looking at them, that they’re healthy, right? They get outside, they work out and they’re physically fit. They’re active. They do yoga.

But the food is where it’s at. That’s the foundation.

EMILY: The powerful thing about Fall Creek Farmers Market is that it truly does boast such a diverse array of vendors with so much knowledge. The reason that the market’s become such a successful community spot is because it is truly a place for everyone to eat, learn, and ultimately co-exist—this is really evident both in the mission of the vendors, and to customers themselves. Forest explained that there were so many details that stood out as memorable, yet the person-to-person interactions were what made the experience one worth going back for.

FOREST: There are people from all age groups. One that’s not mentioned in my review is the Indian couple, who serves prepared foods there. And, they are a little bit older. So when you talk to them, you get a whole different set of vibes or information or backstory about their journey here in the United States.

That’s completely different, say, from the couple who own Frostbite, which is the Italian ice vendor. They’re youngsters and they have a lot of very interesting stories to tell because they’re actually looking to you to provide them information on your journey here in the United States. So we picked that up.

You look at Avila flavors, they sell empanadas and other South American types of food. And what you find out is that they actually are operating in a little shop, here in the Humble area of Texas. So they travel across and they do a lot of venues in this particular area or serve their foods in partnership with other business people in this area.

So you just learned quite a bit about the people. There’s a youngster there who shows up with his dad who’s supporting him on plastics processing those type of things like recycling. Sometimes people are a little surprised to find out that you know a lot about their topics in their areas. But the way you learn a lot is by talking to people and being open and receptive to learning.

EMILY: To reviewers like Forest, there’s something priceless about getting to engage with the vendors and business owners. And really understand their mission, and to learn from them about their product. In the space of the farmers market, the experience that Jonathan and Andrea have created encourages education and community. While also promoting healthy eating. And that makes customers really feel like they’re a part of the journey.

FOREST: Well, when you talk about the American dream, there are a couple of things that pops up, right? One is business ownership. But what you find as much as anything is business owners typically are here from other countries. The people who start the businesses are very often people who come from backgrounds in which there was virtually no safety net.

So they come here and they bring their knowledge to the United States. So when I’m looking at these businesses, I’m looking at how can learn more, so I can help other people in the community continue to start these small businesses that make our economy run.

And, if you go to a hamburger restaurant and it’s like, I did a review on Mean Burger. That’s a family owned business, and it’s supporting his family versus multi-national corporations, and that’s what keeps our individual communities strong.

EMILY: In addition to visiting and spending money at local businesses, another great way to support them is to share your experiences in a review. It not only attracts other customers, but can help provide valuable information for the business as well, about what their customers think.

JONATHAN AND ANDREA: Reviews are everything, especially in 2024. Reviews are everything. It shapes your business. It helps, right? This is the suggestion box, right? That was the old physical suggestion box. Now you can get it in real time at any time. And we definitely are very receptive and open to the feedback. And we love it, right?

The not so favorable reviews, we do get some, not a whole lot. But it helps us grow. It helps us adapt. It helps us get better. And we love it. We want to have integrity and we expect that from all teammates to have integrity. And once you have the integrity, you feel that you feel that you’re in an atmosphere of trust and love.

Leading with love is where we’re at. And it kind of spills over to the community. When we do elite events and the Yelpers come out and they’re like, ‘wow, this is amazing. I wish more people would know about it. This is beautiful. The hidden gem’ is what they say. And it’s just up to us to be consistent, be very responsive. And yeah, reviews are everything. Bottom line.

We appreciate it, we love the feedback, and we always see how we can increase and do more. So, that is the mindset that it puts us in. Like, okay, they had a phenomenal experience, how can we make it better than that? And if somebody didn’t have the best experience, we have to consider what they had to say and, shift and pivot to make sure that, it is a more inclusive feeling.

So we do take all of that into consideration. And you know, just give them a reason to come back. And you just want to keep it open, right? The dialogue open and genuine with love.

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