Bayview Farm Crawl – South Padre Island
With 350 miles of Texas running along the Gulf Coast we’ve got quite a few beach destinations. And though Texas isn’t as well known for its beaches as, say, Florida or California, we’ve still got some beautiful stretches of sand perfect for a family vacation. One of the more popular beach destinations in Texas is South Padre Island and it’s easy to see why. The small town is filled with kind people and the beaches are kept incredibly clean. With affordable accommodations, dining and entertainment this is one sandy getaway that can fit a modest travel budget.
When on a beach vacation visiting farms may not be your first instinct. I know that before meeting some amazing farmers at a local Farmer’s Market I hadn’t even considered such a thing myself. But today I’m going to share with you the magic and fun that is the Bayview Farm Crawl in Bayview, TX – just a short 17 mile drive from the island.
Made up of 5 different farms including Acacia Farms, Bayview Veggies, Franny’s Garden, River’s End Nursery and Thompson Farms and with a map available on their Facebook page, Bayview Farm Crawl has everything from fresh veggies, homemade ice cream, cheeses and baked goods and is open every Friday from noon-6 p.m. We went during what has to be the hottest part of the day and only visited 3 of the 5 locations after tiring out and heading back to the cool modern wonder of air conditioning but we hope to visit the 2 we missed in the near future.
When heading out pay attention to signs to help guide you into each farm to view and by visiting the Facebook page you can private message to get a helpful phone call from Mr. Moffitt in the event you get a weensy bit lost. We started off at Bayview Veggies where we were absolutely blown away by the hospitality we met there.
In spite of the fact that I have lived in a rural area for most of my adult life I can say that I have not visited a farm since my field trip days as a child. Speaking with Rhonda at Bayview Veggies Rob and I quickly realized just how little we know about where our food comes from and how it grows. We received an excellent tour of the small farm and even caught a glimpse of what the future holds for these farmers including where they are going to break ground and build their new home in the future.
These aren’t your huge industrial farms, these are the local heroes that grow good, healthy food for their local community. If you’re willing to give them 20-30 minutes they’ll show you around their world and I promise it’s quite interesting.
And there’s no better place to get firsthand knowledge of how your food is grown. Upon asking if the flower on gourd plants turns into the gourd itself Rhonda went through her plants until she could find a good specimen to explain just how the flower is indeed the beginning of a gourd.
Every plant was explained to us. We were told the amazing ways to use the produce they grow, interesting details on how asparagus is grown and even heard about the flavors of fruits we had never even heard of before. After grabbing a mason jar full of dried okra and a dozen farm fresh eggs we headed out to the next farm on our tour.
We first heard of the crawl from Franny of Franny’s Garden. Hitting up her stand at a local farmer’s market we tried peanut butter fruit (which, amazingly, truly tastes like peanut butter) and Panama berries – both things we had never even heard of. With an explanation for each thing, including why they’re good for you we found we were more than excited to check out the garden where Franny grows.
After driving up onto the property we had a quick look around and were soon met by Franny herself. It was a pleasant surprise that she remembered us and she grabbed a knife and quickly beckoned us to take a tour of her garden. She showed us how which veggies were ripe and we watched her collect them with that knife she carried around. Franny showed us which veggies were no longer good and explained why. We had on huge smiles as we watched her chickens come running out of her banana trees excited at the cut up gourd treats she was tossing them. We also learned that the early loofah gourd (like the thing you scrub your body with!) is edible and even went home with one to try in our next stir-fry.
Cozying up to a vine after explaining the benefits wasps have on her garden, we learned how the bitter melon comes to be with two very different looking flowers including the one seen above. The two flowers work together to pollinate and keep the plants producing fruit.
In the end we left with our edible loofah gourd, black bean (gluten free!) brownies, our next tasty salad and 2 small orange gourds that were harvested as we walked and heard about how to grow things in South Texas.
Our next, and final stop on our tour was River’s End Nursery. Heading down the scenic drive we were quite floored with what an interesting little place we were met up with at the end. Here you can buy any number of tropical or sub tropical plants including a large variety of mangoes should you want to try your hand at growing your own fruit at home.
Inside of a quaint little shop you’ll find jellies, syrups, ice creams and more made from the fruit harvested in the nursery. We grabbed several flavors of homemade frozen treats to give a try including watermelon lemon sorbet, coconut sorbet (my favorite), berry sorbet and chocolate-free Rocky Road (pictured at the beginning of this post). Each was amazingly fresh and so welcome to help us beat the heat on the hot day.
In the end we found that the Bayview Farm Crawl to be entertaining, enlightening and just plain fun. We headed away from Bayview with a bag full of fruits, veggies, baked goods and fruit syrups. And I must say we were incredibly thankful that we have a good air conditioner in our little Corolla 🙂 If you’re in the South Padre area on a Friday I’d highly encourage a visit.