April 10, 2008
Countdown: Urban parks and organic produce

Many of you may have wondered, "So he's married, right? And she gets mentioned sometimes, but we've never actually HEARD from her..."

So here I am to rectify that!

As CK has mentioned before, I've been involved with the Board of Directors for Central City Co-op since last fall. Our family has been a member of the co-op since 2003, and when I accepted my severance late last summer, I decided that one of the things I wanted to concentrate on was going back to my original career intentions of working with non-profit and educational groups. Since I'd done a corporate gig for 10 years, getting my feet re-wet by working with a group near and dear to my heart seemed like the perfect option.

I hadn't been on the Board more than 6 or 8 weeks when someone said, "Hey, Discovery Green has approached us about being the market operator for their new park. We should look at this."

So my business experience has come in handy helping the co-op develop a brand-spanking-new business in the bustle that is downtown Houston. It's been a wild and wonderful ride. Working with all of the various groups involved in Discovery Green has been very exciting. There's a ton of brain-power and good will behind the park effort, and a lot of excitement brewing with the Green Market offering.

Green Market, a project of Central City Co-op, will operate on Thursday afternoons from 4 to about 7:30 pm during the summer, with some adjustment as winter comes and the day gets shorter. We will operate year-round. It's a real challenge to develop a market for organic produce and locally produced artisanal goods, but we think it's coming along nicely. Because we can't be sure what the market will bear, things will start slowly, but we have plans for steady growth and the addition of vendors on a weekly basis. Our thrust is local, organic, "green" and primarily agricultural. As a Certified Farmer's Market, we will bring farmers from a 200 mile radius of downtown into the city, providing local produce. We are also trying to bring a variety of value-added agricultural products (prepared foods, for instance), and merchandise from local craftspeople. A big part of our challenge is creating a demand in downtown that can sustain these farmers and artisans. We hope that the park will facilitate the creation of a real community around these ideas.

When I first started going to co-op, I was interested in finding organic vegetables and fruits for less money than the local supermarket, and felt that somehow participating in a community of people interested in ideas of sustainability in general, and organics in particular, was a good thing. The idea of local agriculture, and the contribution of farm-to-fork issues in the environment and the local economy was something I hadn't even thought much about. And I had no idea whether I or my family (then only husband) would like local produce. I've learned a lot over my years as a co-op member about the offerings of local farmers. The strawberries may be smaller, but I swear they are sweeter. The local spring onions and fresh herbs are a delight to cook with. I've learned not to fear greens. I've rediscovered what a real tomato tastes like.

I hope that our effort at Green Market will bear fruit, not only for the office and residential communities of downtown, but for the local farmers and artisans we hope to have at market on a weekly basis. All of this, of course, depends on market attendance, and people being willing to purchase perishable items downtown and take them home. It's a gamble. But one Central City is, with the support of our existing community of members, farmers and our new partner at Discovery Green, willing to take. We look forward to the evolution of our new community.

Come see the Market on Thursdays beginning next week! The Co-op will also have a table at Family Day at Discovery Green this Sunday, where you can pre-order our assorted "share" of produce for delivery at market on Thursday. We will also have open market (by the piece) shopping on Thursday, and pre-orders for future pickups.

As for my role here at the blog, I'll leave the heavy lifting to the other adult in our household. I think he does a fine job. I do intend, though, to write about our work at Green Market and other things that strike me from time to time. Thanks for reading today, and I'll be here again with a market update next week!


I will be appearing on the early morning news programs on local affiliates Channel 11 Friday morning at around 6:15am and on Saturday on Channel 2 at around 6:30 am to talk about Green Market. Of course these both being live appearances, times could vary dramatically. Either way I am up and camera ready by 5:45 am 2 mornings in a row. How's that for dedication?

Posted by Tiffany Tyler on April 10, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

Great news for us, Tiffany. I'm sure we'll be shopping there on Thursday evenings. Thanks for your good work and for your post!

Posted by: Jeff N. on April 10, 2008 4:20 PM

Hi, Tiffany! Glad to see you here. Looking forward to reading more from you!

Posted by: Martha Griffin on April 10, 2008 4:29 PM

Welcome, Tiffany! Jazzed about such a great thing at D'Green! I am close and will come by/buy!

Posted by: Melissa on April 11, 2008 7:25 AM

I'm really looking forward to the opening of this market and hope it has a great deal of success.

Posted by: Patrick on April 11, 2008 10:00 AM

"So he's married, right?"

I get that a lot, too.

(taps ring against table)

I guess I still am.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on April 11, 2008 1:33 PM