Nancy Tiemann and her husband, Tom, have visited many small towns in Texas in their search for a country destination to retreat to from their home in Austin. “We were looking for a place with a real sense of community and its own identity,” she says. They found what they were looking for in Fredericksburg, Texas, and they decided it was too good to wait. Eight years ago, long before they retired, the couple moved to a small farm outside of town.
Fredericksburg is located in Hill Country, the rich agricultural region of central Texas. The Tiemann property included an old orchard, which Nancy has since restored. Her interest in selling fruit from her farm, as well as fresh eggs and sweet corn, put her in touch with other members of the community who were interested in starting a farmers’ market. Today, Tiemann is the co-president of the market.
“Our suppliers all come from within an 80 km radius of the market, and we have a lot to do,” says Tiemann. “We have peaches, vegetable farms, vineyards. Really, the idea of the epicurean center is coming to fruition, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. A mix of commercial growers – many of them organic – use the market, as do small garden growers. The Texas Hill Country is said to be the second most visited wine region in the United States.
Originally a proudly German settlement, Fredericksburg retains elements of a traditional German village. The city has a strong ethos of historic preservation and much of the architecture is intact, including a cobbled “marktplatz” or central city square, with pavilions and playgrounds, which serves as a hub for community events.
One such event, now in its 11th year, is the annual Renewable Energy Gathering and Green Living Fair. Co-organizer Laura Rice says the fair is being held in Fredericksburg in part because of the market square and general appeal of the city, and also in part because of its proximity to Austin and San Antonio.
There is also a natural affinity with sustainability in the city. “The city is starting to embrace it,” says Rice, a Fredericksburg native. “The Germans who settled here always did things like conserving water and harvesting rainwater. As far as renewable energies are concerned, this is starting to gain ground. Organic farming has helped push it forward. There is no other region so strong for organic products in the region.
The food and wine industry is complemented by a thriving cultural scene. A dozen venues in the city and surrounding region host musical performances, and the city has six theater groups. Artists of all kinds live in the area and the town center is home to several art galleries.
Statistics: Fredericksburg, Texas
Median household income: $32,276
Time: Hot and dry, with mild winters and wet springs.
What makes it great: A quaint and historic German village with a strong identity and commitment to organic farming.
Discover the other cities featured in our 2011 edition of Great places you’ve (maybe) never heard of.