Garden View: Citrus and vegetable show returns with a farmers market

BY BARBARA STORZ

I bet there are a few folks in South Texas who remember the Youth Citrus and Vegetable Show held in the Rio Grande Valley for 69 years. It ended 10 years ago.

This educational competition for children participating in leadership programs like 4-H and Future Farmers of America connected the dots between agriculture and health through the competition.

Participating in the show meant learning about produce availability at this time of year, produce quality, nutritional value, food preparation and safety and product marketing. Area youth also learned a bit about hard work through harvesting and cleaning of the produce as well as learning to set goals and schedule their time, all while earning a bit of prize money and ribbons. Local farms opened their fields to the children and many served as judges for the various competitions.

This weekend, marks the resurrection of the Citrus and Vegetable Show with some new learning experiences and outreach for the entire Valley community. The show is being hosted at the Events Center at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Showgrounds. Cooking demonstrations for the public begin at 10:30 a.m. with staff and chefs of Texas A&M AgriLife’s “Dinner Tonight” healthy family nutrition program.

Additionally, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Growing Growers Farmers Market will duplicate much of its McAllen Firemen’s Park farmer’s market with opportunity to purchase locally grown vegetables, citrus, herbs, grass fed lamb and beef, along with most of the farm products typically found at their market on Saturday mornings. These include goat’s milk cheese, jams, jellies, breads, honey, quail eggs, soaps, natural body scrubs, potted herbs and mesquite coffee and tea.

The Home Bakers will also have grapefruit pie, pecan-orange pie and other deserts with options including vegan, gluten free and organic. Several of the producers and vendors will have educational exhibits and cooking demonstrations, including cooking with Chef Shari Guzman of Lil Buddy Farm.

Chef Larry Delgado, representing the Texas Chefs Association, will prepare samples of locally grown vegetables and dragon fruit. When asked to join the event, Delgado said, “I’d love to participate, after all, I use to gather vegetables for the show when I was a child. We have needed to bring this show back for a long time!”

This sentiment will be felt by several who have organized this show and served as judges, since many of them participated in the show as children. With the Valley’s rising childhood obesity rate and incidence of diabetes, this show is timely and much needed.

The public is invited to come to the showgrounds and see the results of the competition, participate in the educational programs with the chefs and shop at the farmers market, beginning at 10 a.m., to show support for this Show and our youth. There is no entry fee to get into the Livestock Show in Mercedes. You can find information about the show, with an agenda at www.rgvls.com.

This is also a perfect opportunity for families to learn about the 4-H and FFA programs that provide valuable leadership development for our youth.

Information about the Growing Growers Farmers Market can be found on its Facebook page. Please note, the Growing Growers Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to noon today in Firemen’s Park. The market will be closed Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 for the holiday season and will reopen Jan. 6.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her gardening show at 7 a.m. Saturday mornings on 710 KURV Radio, or email her at bstorz@rcommunications.com.