Whenever you run a small farm business, the tools remain sharpened, the compost gets sifted, the seeds get planted, the produce gets harvested, washed, distributed, and the gates stay open only because people want it open.
For the last six years, our farm business has steadily grown each year only with the committed support from individuals and families who care about our work just as much as we do.
Christi and Michael Vasquez Martin are one of those families and they’ve been some of our biggest advocates.
A native of Denver Harbor, Christi has been in the East End for a large part of her life. She and her partner Michael moved back into the area in 2017 and have been a part of our CSA ever since.
Pre-Covid, we would see them almost every week and not just for their weekly CSA pick up. We would be hosting them on the farm at a Sourdough making class or an Edible Houston beer tasting event or run into them in the neighborhood at a Complete Communities meeting, a gathering of East End Unidos, or at Moontower Inn.
On March 30 2019, a day that highlighted Houston’s range of weather, they got married here on the farm! Dancing to Selena under the oaks during their reception is a farm memory I’ll never forget.
Since Covid, they’ve also stepped up and consistently supported our Neighborhood Produce Program, donating regularly to help put fresh, local produce into the hands of fellow members of the 2nd Ward and Magnolia Park communities.
We’re so grateful for the commitment they make to our farm and our community. They make us feel like we’re aren’t just an urban farm in Houston, but a place that defines what it means to be a part of life in the East End.
Q&A with Martin and Christi
What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies?
Michael is a software engineering project manager at Quorum Business Solutions. Christi works in marketing and communications, and recently joined El Centro de Corazón. Christi enjoys reading fantasy novels and gardening. Michael likes playing video games and is an avid soccer fan.
When and why did you become a CSA member? When was your first visit to the farm?
Shortly after moving back to the area in 2017, we met Finca CSA member and all-star farm-friend Paul Richards-Kuan. When we had dinner with him and his wife Karyn, they recommended we check it out. Our first visit to Finca took us totally by surprise—there’s really no place quite like it! We immediately knew Finca was special because yes the produce is delicious and the farmers are wonderful, but also because a farm in the East End makes so much sense. The East End is considered a food desert/swamp, which means there are too few grocery stores and too many not-so-healthy food options. This affects residents’ health, but it also rears its head in everyday situations, like just trying to cook dinner or determining how far you need to drive to get certain ingredients. Yet much of the East End exists because Houston’s Latino population responded to similar systemic challenges (racial segregation, redlining, etc.) by quite literally building their own spaces where their families could live and grow with dignity. That spirit of collective dreaming and self-sufficiency is integral to the neighborhood, and we see the farm as a reflection of that spirit. Three years later, we’re still surprised and delighted every time we pull up to Finca.
What is you/your family’s favorite Finca produce?
Figs, patty pan squash, misome and sweet potato greens are fan favorites in our household. It’s also a treat any time peppers are included in the share.
What is your favorite way to use our produce?
Snacking straight out of the bag on the way home from picking up our CSA….resisting the share’s leafy green goodness is futile! We use the greens in stir-frys, and we love making tomato sauce during tomato season—Christi doesn’t even like tomatoes but sauce made with Finca tomatoes and basil just hits different.
What is your fondest Finca memory?
While we have made many great memories at Finca, our wedding at the farm in March 2019 takes the cake. Celebrating such a special moment with our close friends and family in a space that embodies community, growth, and life was so joyful and exactly what we had envisioned for our wedding. Many elements of the celebration were tied to the farm, too, like the wedding cakes baked by Sarah Arvidsson that were inspired by seasonal produce. We also saw that moment of surprise and delight from many of our guests as first-time visitors to the farm, and that was priceless. There’s a 99.9% chance that if you bump into us at Finca, we’ll point out the exact spot where we said vows!
What is your favorite part about living/working in the East End?
Without a doubt, the people that make this community what it is. The East End is shaped by the people who have lived and worked here for generations and no place in Houston can offer the same things. It feels like a city all of its own and the people take pride in their heritage and giving back in a way that is truly heartwarming.
Any other comments/memories about Finca Tres Robles?
It’s been a little harder this year with COVID-19, but we have really enjoyed and appreciated taking classes (Kombucha, Sourdough), attending ticketed dinners, and other events (New Years Farm & Firelight, Beer & Bands) hosted at Finca Tres Robles. Any event we’ve been to has been so much fun and introduced us to so many wonderful people whether they are CSA members or just a part of the community.