A board to oversee plans for an expanded Houston Farmers Market was selected at a meeting last week at the Houston Visitors Center.

About 40 attended the meeting, which was organized by Downtown Houston Inc., the organization that owns the Lone Star Plaza property that is used by the market on Fridays and Saturdays in downtown Houston.

Peter Maki, a Houston resident, acted as a facilitator to receive input from those interested in selling goods at the First and Pine streets market. Representatives of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Texas County Health Department spoke.

Verlin Altom of Houston highlighted the Ozarks Farmers Cooperative based in West Plains that was formed to meet a growing demand for locally grown produce and offers resources to local gardeners wanting to market garden items. The organization also has a deal with Pyramid Foods, which owns Ramey Supermarket and Price Chopper grocery stores.

Altom also is involved in other garden projects locally, including the community garden east of Mercy Clinic and a Texas County Justice Center garden overseen by trusty inmates at the Texas County Jail. Last year, produce generated saved taxpayers about $20,000 in food costs at the jail. Expansion is planned this year, including installation of a high tunnel that would increase savings.

Seasonal high tunnels are structures made of metal pipe and covered with plastic or other sheeting. Easy to build, maintain and move, they provide an energy-efficient way to extend the growing season, reduce or avoid use of pesticides and reduce run off and leaching of nitrogen. Unlike greenhouses, they require no energy, relying on natural sunlight to modify the climate inside to create favorable conditions for growing vegetable and other specialty crops.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing financial assistance for seasonal high tunnels as part of a three-year trial to determine their effectiveness in conserving water, reducing pesticide use, maintaining vital soil nutrients and increasing crop yields.

A board was selected to guide the local farmers market — with goals of becoming bigger, increasing local produce and its quality, as well as marketing. They are: Steve Wilson, Leroy Motzkus Jr., Frank Coleman, Altom, New Life USA, Brad Hinkle, Downtown Houston Inc., Jim Milby and David Hutsell. Members will meet 6-8 p.m. March 6 and return with its findings from 6-8 p.m. March 20 at the Houston Visitors Center.

Downtown Houston Inc. said it wanted to encourage the expansion and plans to extend space to it in a Main Street building that will include refrigeration space, restrooms and storage availability. It recently was awarded state tax credits for the work and renovation of the Melba Theatre and has an application pending with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development.

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