I had the chance last Saturday morning to check out Imperial Farmers Market at the Imperial Park Recreation Center, 234 Matlage Way in Sugar Land.

It was a typically sweltering August day, but I enjoyed chatting with some vendors and passersby and admiring their cute dogs. 

It’s always interesting to me to watch how a market like this comes to life, as people pull up in their trucks from all across the Houston area and the state to sell their baked goods, homegrown produce or boutique clothing and jewelry. 

According to Carmen Lingenfelter, a former Sugar Land resident and a longtime vendor, the market will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in the coming months. 

She said the COVID-19 pandemic hit some vendors and other farmers markets hard, but that she is grateful for the community’s support.

“Some people still think that because everything got shut down last year, that that was the end of it,” Lingenfelter said. “We’ve been going for 10 years strong, and we’re hoping for at least another 10 or 20 more.” 

The market moved from the site of the Imperial Sugar refinery in 2018 into the heart of the historic Belknap Brookside neighborhood to make way for construction at the Imperial Market development. 

Lingenfelter now lives in Rosenberg and operates River Duck Ranch, a homestead where she manages three horses, a small herd of cattle, and a flock of chickens. 

She also sells balsamic vinegar from Spicewood and honey from Waco. 

Her 1949 Ford pickup truck was parked at the entrance to the market, as it is every Saturday. 

I bought some Fredericksburg-grown peaches, cardamom cookies and a mini pecan pie from Ooha Sol Farm, based in Sealy, about an hour northwest of Sugar Land. 

I also got some brownies and cookies from Sweets by Susan, a bakery in Orchard, which is 15 minutes northwest of Rosenberg on State Highway 36. 

Later, I stopped by Granny’s Tamales, which has locations in Humble and Spring, and purchased a dozen each of two different varieties: one containing spinach, cheese and chicken and another that is a mix of pork and beef. 

Sugar Land resident Berenice Gutierrez told me she used to shop at the market when she lived in Houston. 

Now a small business owner, Gutierrez has come full circle and is a vendor at the market herself. 

She owns and operates Suif Skincare, which makes moisturizers and facial cleansers out of beef tallow and other organic ingredients.

Gutierrez said she started her own business in 2019, but she has been making her own natural skincare products at home for 17 years. 

When the weather is nicer, she brings her two daughters, ages 6 and 8, and her husband, she said. 

“This is a family business,” Gutierrez said. 

But she’s relatively new to Sugar Land, having moved from Houston a year-and-a-half ago. 

“What I love about the market is there are vendors that have been here for years,” Gutierrez said. “They really love what they are doing, and they are trustworthy. Because you can see when people are trying to sell you something, and I can see that they are authentic.”

The Imperial Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. every Saturday. 

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