When Harry was studying Tropical Horticulture at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, he was introduced to Maew. Maew grew up in Thailand, were she learned how to grow fresh produce, in particular, Thai vegetables. Because of Harry and Maew’s experiences, they were able to create a career and opportunity to those who found it hard to find Asian vegetables in the Austin area.
After selling their old Austin farm, which had been surrounded by housing developments, the Simmons purchased their current farm in 2006 and began farming. The Simmons Family Farm is just located 27 miles outside of Austin in Niederwald, TX. Today, their farm grows a variety of hard to find Thai vegetables, such as Thai basil, Thai lime, lemon grass, papaya, Thai eggplants and Thai chili peppers. The Simmons not only sell their Thai vegetables at local farmers’ markets, but Maew uses her vegetables to cook well-known Thai dishes like Tom Yum Soup, Pad Krapow and Som Tam Salad. While most Thai vegetables do well in Texas, this fall, the Simmons will have many of their more tropical vegetables protected by their greenhouses when Texas undergoes its first, impending freeze. These popular vegetables include bok choy, cilantro, carrots, onions, kale, chard, spinach and garlic.
Being active participants in local farmers’ markets, Harry and Maew enjoy their interactions with the customers. The Simmons take pleasure in sharing helpful tips on growing certain vegetables, delicious recipes and chatting with the friendliest of people in Austin. In fact, some of their closest friends are among those they have encountered at their booth.
Upon meeting Jack for the first time, Harry and Maew were not yet familiar with who he was. Soon after several visits and talks, their friendship with Jack grew because of a mutual appreciation and love for the best local produce. “The Simmons most certainly enjoy the food at Jack Allen’s Kitchen, especially when their own basic produce is served among the fresh savory dishes, such as the pepper sauce, okra, tomatoes and fried green tomatoes,” Harry says. It was from these friendships that Harry, Maew and Jack have been able to work together and shed light on locally grown and raised foods in the Austin community.
Owned and operated by Harry and Maew Simmons, the Simmons Family Farm is dedicated to providing Austin with locally grown produce. As members of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) and the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas, they sell their products at: SFC Farmers Market Downtown on Saturdays, 9AM - 1PM, at 422 W. Guadalupe in Republic Square Park; SFC Farmers Market at Sunset Valley on Saturdays, 9AM - 1PM, at 3200 Jones Rd at the Toney Burger Center; and SFC Farmers Market at The Triangle on Wednesdays, 3PM - 7PM, at 4600 N. Lamar Blvd. For further information, please visit http://www.simmonsfamilyfarms.com/ or call 512.788.1468.
- 3 tomatoes, sliced thinly
- 1 pie shell
- 6 sprigs of basil
- 1 cup shredded cheese, such as Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
About half an hour before baking the pie, season the tomatoes and let some of the water drain out of them.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Layer the sliced tomatoes on the bottom of an unbaked pie shell. Tear apart basil and place on top of tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and mayonnaise, then spread evenly. Bake for approximately 45 minutes til bubbly and golden brown. Serves up to 4 people.