GERONIMO — Promoting healthy eating while sharing the importance of supporting local farmers is what Julie Braune and her family’s business Braune Farms Fresh Produce have always strived to do.
When they’re not at area farmer’s markets, nearby neighbors can find Julie and her family with their homegrown goods at their weekly farm stand on their property at 1300 Link Road.
Every Wednesday, the Braune family sets up shop from 3 p.m. to dusk with an array of crops they’ve picked that day.
“We started doing this about five years ago. I started out just setting up a little card table down at the end of the driveway with a little tent,” Julie said. “Then a few years ago my husband built me a little farm stand. It’s not much, but it’s better than standing out there in the tent.”
The Braune family started the stand after customers were stopping by the farm looking for their products during the work week, Julie said.
“We just decided we should have a day where we just sell at the farm to kind of service the community within a 10 to 15-mile radius of where we are,” she said.
The farm stand currently has an array of leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens, cabbage and collards as well as root crops including radishes, turnips, carrots and green onions, Julie said.
They’re also going to start having strawberries, Julie added.
“We are currently in our winter season so we only have certain crops. This is something we fight on a daily basis with people because they don’t understand seasonality,” Julie said.
While Braune Farms has grown produce for about 15 years, they were no strangers to farming prior to that.
“My husband is a fifth generation farmer, and he and his family have been growing row crops for years,” Julie said. “I would say probably about 15 years ago my husband came in one night and said ‘we’re going to have to do something different to make money off our land or we’re not going to be able to sustain. At this time we were not growing any vegetables of any sort. He was strictly just doing corn, milo and wheat.”
The prices of feed, fertilizer and diesel were going up, but the crops weren’t prospering, Julie said.
“Every year we grew a large patch of sweet corn to put up for our family. We’d put it in the freezer and whatever we didn’t use ourselves we would try to sell,” she said. “So we would put up signs on State Highway 123 and State Highway 46 and people would stop at the gas station and call us asking ‘where do we come to get corn?’”
The Braune family was then getting calls about what other products they grew.
On days when the farm stand isn’t up, people can find Braune Farms at area farmer’s markets such as Cibolo Grange Farmer’s Market, Four Seasons Farmer’s Market and the Pearl Farmer’s Market in San Antonio.
This May will be the Braune Farm’s 10th anniversary of being a member of the Pearl Farmer’s Market, Julie said.
“We actually were one of the founding members that thought of that market in San Antonio. My husband went to all the planning meetings when it was first being formed,” she said. “Today, I am currently the president of the Pearl Farmer’s Market Association.”
Julie said the most important part about being able to interact with the people at the farm stand and at the markets is educating them.
When people buy from local farms, they know where their products are coming from, Julie said.
“Everything that is available at the farm stand has been picked today. One benefit of purchasing from us is that it’s super fresh,” she said. “If you know anything about fresh vegetables you know from the time you harvest any vegetable no matter what it is it starts to loose its nutritional value. If you pick a vine ripen tomato it’s going to taste much better than a tomato that was picked green and you left on the counter to turn red.”
Julie added that their gives her the opportunity to show people where their product is actually harvested and what is done to help it grow.
Plus, eating local and fresh is also better for you health-wise, Julie said.
“I think society is all caught up in the whole curb side, order online deliver to your door movement,” she said. “I’m seeing that more and we’re seeing a decline in farmer’s markets foot traffic because people are not taking the time to shop for their vegetables. The fresher you can eat the better it is for you.”
Braune Farms is in the process of developing its own home delivery produce service that Julie said they hope to launch in the near future.