By Sarah Huether
“Nothing that we have you’ll find in a grocery store,” says Brad Stufflebeam, lit by the skylight of the Home Sweet Farm Market. An old plow hangs like a chandelier from the open rafters of the market, dangling over shelves of locally sourced harvest and the Stufflebeam family. A couple walks in, as Jenny Stufflebeam greets them with a hug and Brad offers a hearty handshake.
Beginning the business through Community Supported Agriculture, the Stufflebeams sold produce, eggs, cheese, and beef from their farm, Home Sweet Farm, established in 2004. The farm of nearly 90 acres lies only eight miles from the new storefront, Home Sweet Farm Market, completely run by volunteers in exchange for produce.
With an ever growing repertoire of artisans, Jenny, Brad, and daughters Brooke, 15, and Carina, 17, have spent years cultivating relationships with other farmers. “We are where the food is being grown,” says Brad, with more than one hundred vendors supplying the store. “We hunted for them, now they are coming to us…we don’t turn anyone away,” says Brad.
“Local people supporting local agriculture,” is the motto of the Home Sweet Farm Market. Working directly with the artisans, Brad says all of their products are unique to the region, offering more than a dozen different types of honey, caramel made from goat’s milk, organic tamales, vegan cookies, hot sauces, soaps, dried flowers, locally ground flour, and even healthy chocolate. “We are one of the first local food hubs in Texas,” says Brad.
Brick and mortar now ground the Home Sweet Farm Market in Downtown Brenham, steps away from the railroad tracks. Jenny says the store allows them to reconnect with customers rather than shipping produce on a truck. As the local food movement grows, Brad says they can “talk about it from the producer’s perspective.”
Every first and third Sunday, Park Street in Downtown Brenham is closed for the Home Sweet Farm Market’s farmer’s market. Live music, local vendors, and pony rides fill the streets. What began as a monthly farmer’s market has become bi-weekly. “We are letting it grow organically,” says Brad. A monthly dinner is also held, offering all of the bounty of the store to local chefs to create a five-course meal. “It’s like a local food challenge,” describes Carina.
To add local harvest to your holiday, the Stufflebeams sell local, grown-to-order turkeys from Richardson Farm. Brad says the turkeys are so fresh they are harvested on a Monday and are delivered by Wednesday. Jenny suggests a pecan oil to add to pies as Carina adds that its high smoking point makes it great for frying. To make the piecrust for the pecan pie, Brad points out local flour ground at the Gristmill near Waco. Carina, the chef of the family, recommends her holiday specialty, persimmon cranberry sauce, as persimmons are in season this time of year.
Brad’s overall goal: “get [people] connected with their food again.”
Carina’s Rosemary Persimmon Cranberry Sauce
1 bag/3cups cranberries, washed and picked through
juice from 2-4 Texas oranges (depending on size)
zest from one orange
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
4 fuyu persimmons, peeled and diced
2/3 – 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it!)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
“Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst. This should take about 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and cool slightly before serving. “