By Daniel Colunga (OC Local Foodshed Intern, Silverton, TX)
Being a local food producer takes more dedication and time than it seems. Imagine having to take care of 26 hundred tomato plants. Howard Farm’s Produce does this daily. The farm is taken care of by Markeeta and Donny Howard, along with their kids, and other family members.
The Howard family lives in Clarendon, Texas. Here they grow and sell a variety of delicious homegrown vegetables, and fruits. It all started with Donny’s father. In 1976, he taught his children how to grow and oversee watermelon. Donny held onto these lessons and grew many other products. Later in 1999, Donny and Markeeta jumped into surrounding farmer’s markets, and still do to this day. Their family has enjoyed supplying communities with freshly grown products. In fact, the Howard family has been working with United Supermarkets to offer freshly grown products in their stores.
The Howard family has been making big impacts in communities. However, all this comes with big responsibilities and physical labor. The Howard’s must continuously manage their products. Whether it be picking the fruits and vegetables, or hoeing the weeds, the family is always busy. Due to this, they have had to hire up to 12 employees. Through the years employees come and go, but lately it has been hard to find employees willing to work hard. However, even through these struggling times, Markeeta and Donny say that it is always worth it in the end. When asked what the highlight of being a local food producer is, Markeeta stated, “It is always fun. It is a great six-month season spent with the whole family. It is a great way to stay connected.” Through the years, she has also been glad to see her son’s grow a work ethic that will stay with them forever. In addition to this, it brings her joy to see her husband so dedicated to something he has had since he was a kid.
Now that Markeeta’s sons and other family members are going their separate ways, the Howard family plans on going into the future one day at a time. They still plan on selling at farmer’s markets in Amarillo and Canyon, Texas. They also plan on heading into the fall with pumpkins, that they will sell in Clarendon and Amarillo. It has been a great experience to understand how much pride and dedication goes into being a local food producer.