Stan Miklis of Caliper Farm to Market is one of the farmers featured on JustPickedTX.com. Photo by Amanda Vanhoozier.
May 1, 2018
A North Texas sustainable food advocate wants to introduce local farmers to their would-be customers.
After years of building up DFW-area farmers markets and community gardens, Amanda Vanhoozier rolled out her website Just Picked TX last summer. The website is both a directory of the farmers, ranchers and farmers markets that participate in the mission of the sustainable food movement and a blog where Vanhoozier shares her insights into the local food scene.
“Just Picked TX is my online brand to help others deepen their ties to the producers of wholesome food and find the joy in relationships with farmers, ranchers, food artisans, chefs and the local food community,” Vanhoozier says. “It has become a platform for a localized food system which is a much more relational, healthy and meaningful way to nourish our bodies.”
Vanhoozier was recently the director of market operations at the Dallas Farmers Market, and before that, she was the founder of Coppell Farmers Market, Coppell Community Gardens and the Stringfellow School Outdoor Learning Environment. She has also served on the Gardeners in Community Development Board, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Board and the GROW North Texas Board. She is currently a part of the Urban Agriculture Action Team with the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions.
Amanda Vanhoozier is the blogger behind JustPickedTX.com.
Having earned respect among North Texas’s agricultural community and with a resume to bolster her most recent venture, Vanhoozier says she wants the website to share her passion and experience in sustainable food production with the public in a way that motivates more people to connect with the local food producers that operate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“There is such a precious value in the handcrafted work of those growing, raising, baking and creating food, that I felt more consumers would want to know more about their stories,” Vanhoozier says. “I hope to create more chatter and sharing online through a blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and hopefully give others the ability to express their awakening to a more personal experience with locally produced food.
“Another reason for starting up Just Picked TX was to create more collaborations between all these groups to strengthen the local food movement. This startup has expanded my reach with a broader affiliation with everyone involved, instead of just one farmers market and their vendors.”
The website currently lists more than 50 farms and nearly 30 ranches, along with each operation’s name, principal figures and a link to the business’ website or social media page.
“Eventually, I would like to have photos, growing or raising practices and product listing. I am starting to add what farmers markets they attend,” Vanhoozier says. “I have included a Farmers Market Guide that includes what to look for in farmers markets and also a map of north Texas farmers markets, pick-your-own farms and farm stores. To start, I have written a couple of articles a month which are categorized for searchability.”
Vanhoozier says she has visited most of the farms she’s listed, and that the only criteria they must meet to for the free listing is to have a location in the area.
“I do not list any poser that does not have an actual farm, but you will see them at other markets – even with signs saying ‘grown local.’” she says. “In the Farmers Market Guide, I have put a heart at the location of producer-only farmers markets in the map.”
Intending a play on words, Vanhoozier says the word just in the website’s monicker not only implies that the harvest has been recently picked but also that it’s been produced according to three values: fairness to the farmer; quality for the customer; and a connection between the consumer and how food is produced.
“I am passionate about fostering a community of supporters that want to know more about where their food comes from, want to make sure it is accessible and want a deeper, more authentic, connection with those that produce their food."
Vanhoozier says the website and her verification of the producers listed are both a labor of love for which she receives no compensation. She enjoys visiting the farms and writing about what’s in season, what it means to eat clean food and why community-supported agriculture is vital for food quality and assuring that we all have access to a diverse cornucopia of fresh and healthy food.
Her experience in spending several decades in the local food movement has led her to believe that there is a growing audience for such a directory and that people want to support local farmers through direct sales and by dining out at restaurants that use locally-produced ingredients.
“I am passionate about fostering a community of supporters that want to know more about where their food comes from, want to make sure it is accessible and want a deeper, more authentic, connection with those that produce their food,” she says. “Just like the food documentaries that started breaking apart the veil of what we were eating in 2007 or so, the second wave was documentaries of positive stories about those growing and raising food. There is more of an audience today, especially telling the positive stories in our area.”
Vanhoozier says she hopes that through Just Picked TX she can create for visitors “a connection to the local food movement with information, stories, highlights and contacts of the local farmers and ranchers. More importantly, [it presents] a lexicon for speaking and sharing with others about what it means to eat food direct from producers, shop at farmers markets or community supported agriculture farms and know more about all the terminology of clean, good food.”