Organic food, wine from local vineyards and lots of homespun entertainment make this town in Texas Hill Country a great place you’ve (maybe) never heard of.
By Joe Hart
Nancy Tiemann and her husband, Tom, toured many small Texas towns in their search for a country destination to retire to from their home in Austin. “We were looking for a place with a real sense of community and its own identity,” she says. They found what they were looking for in Fredericksburg, Texas, and they decided it was too good to wait for. Eight years ago, long before their retirement, the couple moved to a small farm outside of town.
Fredericksburg is located in Hill Country, the rich farm region in central Texas. The Tiemann’s property included an old orchard, which Nancy has since restored. Her interest in selling the fruits of her farm, as well as fresh eggs and sweet corn, connected her to others in the community who were interested in founding a farmers market. Today, Tiemann is the market’s co-president.
“Our vendors all come from within a 50-mile radius of the market, and we have plenty to draw from,” Tiemann says. “We have peaches, vegetable farms, vineyards. Truly, the epicurean center idea is happening, and I couldn’t be happier than to be a part of it.” A mix of commercial growers — many of them organic — use the market, as do small-scale garden growers. Texas Hill Country is said to be the second-most-visited wine region in the United States.
Originally a proudly German settlement, Fredericksburg retains elements of a traditional German village. The town has a strong historic preservation ethic, and much of the architecture is intact, including a cobblestoned “marktplatz,” or central town square, complete with pavilions and playgrounds, which serves as a hub for community events.
One of these events, now in its 11th year, is the annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair. Co-organizer Laura Rice says that the fair is held in Fredericksburg in part because of the marktplatz and the general appeal of the town, and also in part because of its proximity to Austin and San Antonio.
There’s also a natural affinity to sustainability in the town. “The town is starting to embrace it,” says Rice, a Fredericksburg native. “The Germans who settled here have always done things like conserve water and collect rainwater. As far as renewables go, that’s starting to catch on. Organic farming has helped drive it. There’s no other region as strong for organics in the area.”
The food and wine industry is complemented by a thriving cultural scene. A dozen venues in the town and the surrounding region host musical acts, and the town boasts six theater performance groups. Artists of all sorts live in the region, and the downtown is home to several art galleries.
Stats: Fredericksburg, Texas
Median household income: $32,276
Weather: Hot and dry, with mild winters and wet springs.
What makes it great: A quaint, historic German village with a strong identity and a commitment to organic farming.
Fredericksburg, Texas: Historic German Heritage – Mother Earth News; Joe Hart, February-March, 2011