What started out as a little fruit and vegetable stand under a shade tree in the late 1970s has blossomed into a full-time local business—the Theiss Farmer's Market on Rayford Road.
The Theiss family has produced locally grown vegetables in Harris County since the 1880s, specializing in tomatoes and corn.
The family now sells about 60 different kinds of vegetables, fruits, honey and novelty items at its two farmers market locations in Spring—one serving The Woodlands area and another in Klein.
"I think more people know the Theiss name over in the Spring/Klein area," co-owner Stacey Theiss said. "So when [co-owner] Mike and I started out [in The Woodlands area], it was a lot of explaining where we came from, who we are. I think, especially in The Woodlands area, they really like supporting local people."
The farm and its markets have remained a family run operation from generation to generation. Theiss and her husband, Mike Watthuber, operate the Spring farmers market and manage the farm along with her brother Dwayne and his wife, April, who also operate the Klein-area market.
"It's a family run business," Watthuber said. "My wife grew up in the fields helping her parents, and our kids have come up and when we need something they will go and help pick tomatoes and things like that. My daughter makes homemade banana bread and her cousin makes homemade salsa so we also carry that."
In order to bring a wider selection, the markets also feature produce and products from other regional farms including local honey, Coopers Farms and Fredericksburg peaches, and 1015 onions.
Recently, the family organized the Fresh Pick Program, a co-op for regular customers who like to have a regular source of seasonal vegetables.
Unlike most co-ops—where customers pay in advance and receive a predetermined mix of available vegetables—the Theiss family takes personalized orders and can deliver directly to homes and businesses in The Woodlands area. Deliveries require a $25 minimum order.
"We deliver to their house, we have a big group of women at Oak Ridge Hospital that participate with us [as well as] several businesses here off the freeway," Watthuber said. "We can put the box together here and you can pick it up, or we can make deliveries."
Residents interested in the program can sign up to receive a weekly email detailing available vegetables and place their orders online.
Watthuber said much of the homegrown produce matures quickly and is available in the early summer months.
"Right around Father's Day, that is probably our biggest single day because all the moms cook for their husbands," Watthuber said. "It's probably one of our biggest weekends. [June and July] is when all of our homegrown [items] like the eggplants and the squashes, tomatoes, peaches, blackberries, blueberries [are available]."
Theiss Farmer's Market
2008 Rayford Road, Spring, 281-419-3276, www.theissfarmsmarket.com
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Open March–October
17045 Stuebner Airline, Klein, 281-370-3276
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Open May–August