Local milk, cream, herbs and fruit star in Honeychild's Sweet Creams' frozen custard

In Houston, Texas, farmland just right up to housing developments and local makers like Kathleen Morgan play a vital role in preserving the region’s farming heritage by sourcing directly from growers and crafting products that highlight the delicious fruit and vegetables grown in this dense urban environment.

When our crew first arrived in Houston, we went straight to Atkinson Farms in Spring, Texas, to meet Kathleen. She sources fruit from this four-generation farm and strawberries were at their zenith, so the plan was for her to pick the ripest berries and then take them back to her communal kitchen, where she’d turn then into a strawberry frozen custard. None of this seemed out of the ordinary, and we agreed it was a great way to dive into this episode. But when we pulled to the farm for the shoot, we thought we might be in the wrong place.

As we pulled off of Ella Boulevard onto Spring Cypress Road, we were in the middle of a town. Klein Collins High School sits at the end of Spring Cypress Road and as we drove toward Atkinson Farms, we passed a storage facility, an entertainment center and an apartment complex. This couldn’t be where the farm is located, I thought.

I checked my phone, and yes, we seemed to be in the right spot. When we’re on the road, we always say that you just “do what the lady says” when our phones are giving directions. We’re always in unfamiliar territory, so we’re dependent on Waze to show us the way. So, we continued down Spring Cypress Road. As we drove, a field appeared on our left and then we turned a corner and the Atkinson Farms strawberry field sat right in front of us. We’d arrived. But all around this farm stood new housing developments.

It seemed like the farm was out of place. It wasn’t, of course. Atkinson Farms has been in this place since 1961 and since that time, the city has grown to surround the farm. What seemed unusual to me turned out to be commonplace in Houston, where, famously, there are no zoning regulations. You can build what you want where you want and because of that, many farms are now surrounded by development.

Here, in the country’s fourth-largest city, makers like Kathleen play a critical role in supporting Houston’s farms. By sourcing from them directly, she is helping to keep farms like Atkinson Farms in place.

Catherine Neville