Leander is not hip or trendy like our neighboring city Austin. The Texas capital city is a green, funky college town and home to celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Lance Armstrong. We, on the other hand, are still mostly rural. Until two years ago, we didn’t even have our own grocery store.
But Leander, the place I call home, has officially moved up in the world. We now have a farmer’s market.
It’s a small little place with booths tucked away under the large shade trees in the front yard of The Good Earth Day School. The market organizers also happen to own the school — a beautiful Waldorf/Montessori inspired preschool situated on a small farm.
As we walked into the gated yard, the first thing I noticed were kids. Kids riding small tricycles, kids pulling other kids in old red wagons, and kids laughing. My own two kids instantly joined in the fun. We then saw the scattering of vendor booths and smiled as a donkey brayed out back.
Yes, you read right. A donkey! The small farm wouldn’t be a small farm without farm animals. Goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, cows, cats, a donkey, and a pig call the place home, and the children who attend the preschool get to help take care of them. My own kids really enjoyed the experience of petting the bunnies, goats, and donkey and watching the roosters strut their stuff and crow as if the sun had just come up.
Our first stop was at Deborah Hajda’s booth. She and her husband operate D & D farms and raise grass-fed Angus beef and pastured pork. We were told Deborah had some swiftly disappearing thick sliced pork belly bacon, so we grabbed two pounds of that treasure and a couple of thick pork chops. She also brought some onions, potatoes, and cucumbers from her garden. We picked up 6 large sweet onions for a mere 50 cents each.
Unfortunately, next week she’ll probably be selling the last of her bacon for the season. So, if you live in the area and want to get your hands on some, be sure to get there bright and early next Saturday morning. The market opens at 8 and runs until 11.
My kids, who hadn’t eaten breakfast yet (shame on me!), then each took 50 cents and bought bags full of homemade cookies. I normally wouldn’t let them eat cookies I hadn’t made myself, but it was the only ready-to-eat food at the tiny market. And, it had been baked by one of the school’s students, so we indulged.
We then met up with Michelle Chapman of Vibrant Naturals, learned about her homemade bath and body products, and bought a lovely hand soap that smelled of summer blossoms. Michelle is currently working on formulating a shampoo, and I will be very excited to try it when it’s ready.
Our last stop was at a massage chair where Stacy Wooster of White Daisy Bodyworks was selling her services as a LMT for a mere $1/minute. Stacy is also a certified yoga instructor who teaches classes at the local Yoga Yoga and Good Health Commons. But the real gem is that she teaches a class at The Good Earth Day School on Wednesday afternoons from 4-5pm for only $10 per class, less if you buy a bundle. I am so going this coming Wednesday.
While my husband got his massage, Leslie Castaneda, one of The Good Earth Day School’s co-owners and market organizers won me over with her description of the school’s activities. The small, homelike school is licensed to offer full or part time care to 50 children aged 3 months to 5 years. They serve an amazing menu of wholesome foods — all locally grown, homemade, and organic when possible. Children help feed and care for the animals and tend the garden plot, and they get to play outside under some of the biggest shade trees in Leander. Inside, the pleasingly attractive rooms are home to a lot of hands-on learning toys and crafts made from all natural materials.
The market is new and just getting underway, but we were already charmed. If you happen to grow vegetables or livestock and are local to the greater Austin area, you would do well to consider getting a booth. I may be mistaken, but I was told they’re only $10 each — a veritable steal.