Canino Produce Company may have closed, but the Houston Farmers Market will not be without a produce vendor for long. Market owner MLB Capital Partners announced that it has brought on Junior's Produce to provide fruit and vegetables — plus beans, nuts, herbs, preserves, and fresh-squeezed juice — for the market. Junior's will begin operations this Saturday, February 9.
Owner Junior Saldaña brings 30 years of experience in the produce business to his new role. MLB founding partner Todd Mason tells CultureMap that they considered several operators for the role, but that Saldaña emerged as the preferred choice.
“With more than 20 years working at the farmers market, Junior was a natural fit," he says. "He brings a true passion for what he does and the community he serves."
In a release, Saldaña calls the new job a "dream come true" and cites his experience working for both grocery stores and health food stores as giving him the ability to maintain the low prices and gracious service that made Canino's a Houston institution for over 60 years. While the "farmers market" designation is a bit of a misnomer, at least in the sense that it isn't devoted exclusively to Texas crops, Saldaña tells CultureMap he will strive to keep things as local as possible.
“Approximately 60 percent of the produce will be Texas-grown crops such as watermelon, zucchini, yellow squash, mustard greens, collard greens, turnips, cabbage, and eggplant," he says. "Thirty percent will be sourced from California and 10 percent from other states. We will also offer a selection of organic options, including an assortment of leafy greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more.”
Junior's Produce arrives at a time of change for the market. In 2017, MLB purchased the almost 18-acre tract with the plans of transforming into a "destination retail experience offering more diversified products, renovated facilities, and community programming." An animation released last year illustrates some of the additions MLB aims to make to the market, including a fish monger, dedicated children's play area, a restaurant, and better separation for vehicles and pedestrians.