Local farm now selling fresh produce, local honey
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Driving down F.M. 2808 in Kempner, one is bound to come across a mannequin advertising local honey. Turning onto that driveway will bring people to Kempner Farm, a local vegetable garden and honey farm owned and operated by Michael Zambrano.
Zambrano started his farming business 11 years ago under the name Killeen Farmers Market and sold fresh vegetables in Killeen at different markets before adding beekeeping to his resume and harvesting and selling honey from his bees through his business, Z’s Bees.
Before embarking on his farming journey, Zambrano worked in in home healthcare, built and repaired computers, laid sod and worked in landscaping.
Zambrano learned how to plant fruits and vegetables after visiting his grandfather in Louisiana in 2007. His grandfather gave him a cucumber and a cantaloupe plant to grow.
Zambrano said he had never thought about growing vegetables before.
“It’s like it just seemed like the most therapeutic thing,” Zambrano said. “It’s like I’m watching this little tiny plant grow from nothing to ‘Wow, man, this thing’s spread out now,’ and ‘Wow, now I’m getting food out of it.’ Eating a homemade cantaloupe is nothing like what you get inside the store. I mean, it is just so delicious, and you grew it so you get to eat the fruits of your labor.”
When his grandfather moved to Central Texas in 2011, Zambrano began learning from him about beekeeping as well, in addition to his farming business.
One year and four months ago, Zambrano bought a four-acre tract of land with a house and other items on the property in Kempner. The property had previously been owned by a hoarder, he said.
He has been slowly but steadily working on clearing out the property and turning it into the Kempner Farm.
Previously, Zambrano sold his items at the Green Avenue Farmers Market and then at the corner of Trimmier and Stage Coach, both in Killeen, before opening up a storefront on Florence Road, also in Killeen. He had also sold his products at the farmers market in the Tractor Supply parking lot for a time period.
“You don’t know where your stuff is coming from when you go to a farmers market that is popping up in a parking lot,” Zambrano said. He added that now it seems like there is no checking to make sure a company is actually the one growing the products they’re selling.
“I just feel like this is more transparent than anything anybody else is going to offer,” Zambrano said. “I like to pick the vegetables for the people just because I know how to cut the vegetables or which ones are readily available, you know to where other people might go along and cut it or pull it out by the root, where a lot of my vegetables will keep on re-growing if you just cut it a few inches or a couple inches from the bottom.”
Zambrano said that he felt blessed to have found this property.
Currently, Kempner Farm has winter vegetables available still. The summer vegetables won’t be planted until Easter Sunday, which is April 12.
Kempner Farm has swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, bibb or butter lettuce and turnips available for purchase. Prices are $3 for 10 ounces or $1.50 each for turnips, five radishes for $3 and $1.50 a head of Bibb lettuce.
Zambrano said he tries to make his prices competitive with grocery stores.
Zambrano has also planted potatoes, onions and garlic, strawberries, cabbage, carrots, Brussel sprouts, red lettuce, Bok Choi, tomatoes, squash, beans, purple peas, peas, cucumber, broccoli and beets. The onions and garlic will take about six months to grow. The peas should be ready within 30 days.
Zambrano managed to get his Z’s Bees honey products into H-E-B stores for a time period. He said he plans to get back into H-E-B under the name Kempner Farm.
Zambrano keeps only a few hives on his property but has bees on other people’s property in Bastrop, Waco, Florence, Kempner and other places in between. Those property owners pay for Zambrano to place his bees on their property and receive a tax exemption after five years. State law says that the property covered by this valuation has to be between five and 20 acres. Zambrano’s Kempner property does not qualify for the tax exemption because it is only four acres.
Zambrano also makes and sells body products from beeswax collected from his bees. Over 60 stores in Texas carry Zambrano’s products, he said.
He offers beginner’s beekeeping classes for those interested and also offers bee removal services, under his company, B Logic.
He has purchased baby chicks and hopes to raise chickens for the dual-purpose use of butchering and egg-laying. He also hopes to eventually, hopefully in the next couple of years, get some pigs and begin offering roasted pigs to the community.
Kempner Farm is located at 4616 F.M. 2808 Kempner, Texas, and is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Zambrano advises that people call first, at 254-368-9880, if they would like to visit the farm, in case he is off doing bee removals or is located elsewhere.
For information on Zambrano’s beekeeping services, people can visit https://blogic.farm/.
Kempner Farm also has a Facebook page, where Zambrano shares updates about what vegetables are available.