Two families with roots running deep in Texas history began their stories in the mid 1860s. the Velas: originated straight from the Laguna Seca Ranch deep in the southern part of the state. They are known for bringing the first citrus fruit trees to the Rio Grande valley. The Smiths: the wife of a civil war physician saved up the money her husband sent back home to her, in order to buy a portion of land to create a life of their own on. The exact land, (all 33 acres) that she purchased has been in the family for more than 100 years and is now the homestead of the Vela Family, backing straight up to the Guadalupe River. It is also the central location of manufacturing, packaging, and production for all things Vela Farms! From jams, jellies, and marmalades to seasonings, salts and dry mixes, we have a wide variety of products to enjoy. Our selection of products can be sweet or spicy, but always full of the good stuff. There are never artificial preservatives, colors or flavors added to any of our products.
Mark and Sara’s farm started as a small garden. Sara enjoyed canning and preserving the excess for her family to enjoy during the winter months. Every spring the family would double the size of the garden. They went from buying seeds in package to buying in bulk from the feed store. Hence, the garden turning into what is now a 3 acre vegetable farm.
In the spring of 2014, she and Mark entered the HEB’s Quest for Texas Best Contest. At the last minute, she changed her flavor choice to include her unique Texas Sweet Tea Jelly. This happened to be a great decision, that was the flavor that caught HEB’s attention. Later that summer, Sara was asked to present her product in the finals in a “shark tank” like presentation. Out of 650 entries across the state of Texas, Vela Farms won 3rdplace and was awarded $10,000.
With the support and encouragement from HEB, Vela Farms currently has 9 flavors (including several seasonal flavors) in over 250 stores in Texas. We have even been featured on an HEB commercial that aired across the state!
Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkg36Xgpr7o
RETAIL, RESTAURANT & CATERING:
In 2015, Vela Farms also took a leap of faith and opened a brick and mortar storefront filled with our artisan, small batch gourmet products and a tiny sandwich shop in downtown Victoria, Texas right across from the city square in what is affectionately known as the Barnes building. A historic 1890’s era building that housed the Barnes Jewelry Store for decades.
By June of 2017, Vela Farms was bursting at the seams. Fortunately, two doors down the block was an old Subway building. It contained walking cooler/freezers that were a huge plus and most of the equipment needed for a sandwich shop. So, we moved! Little did we know, by moving we were becoming full fledged restaurateurs. The previous location centered around gourmet products, the new location centered around the restaurant.
With the new building, we had space to start catering. So, we did. We are now one of the top catering companies in Victoria. We jokingly say we cater anything from “Peanut butter & Jelly Sandwiches to Prime Rib”. We offer appetizer catering, full-service catering, and plenty of office lunch catering options.
One of the most popular items in the restaurant the Casseroles. With plenty of “heart attack in a sack” options, we felt Victoria needed a healthier, homecooked option. We developed 5 flavors of casseroles, available in fresh (ready in 30 minutes) and frozen (ready in 1 hour, easy to stock your freezer) meals. It’s worked out great for families on the go. We have several sizes and flavors to choose from. We even offer curbside pickup and online ordering from your phone. No more getting the kids out of the car seats.
THE COOKING SCHOOL:
Also, in the summer of 2017, we started our first Cooking Camp for ages 5-13. We taught over 300 students. Soon date night, girl’s night out, and mommie & me classes were started with huge success. Unfortunately, in February of 2019 we had air-conditioner issues that prevented us from continuing classes in our classroom upstairs. Don’t worry, we are currently looking for alternatives and plan to resume classes as soon as we can.
In September 2019 we decided change thing up, we closed the sandwich shop and switched to an All You Can Eat Buffet style restaurant. It was a Godsend. We were able to provide Texas Homestyle food to downtown. It worked great, because most folks downtown have a limited time for lunch, some as little as 30 minutes. Now they can come in, grab a plate, and eat what they want. The bonus was instead of sandwiches, we could now feature some of our most popular catering options.
It has been a huge learning curve, but we feel like we are learning fast. Everyone seems to really enjoy the change. View the monthly menu here: https://www.facebook.com/VelaFarms/menu/
CARS & COFFEE:
In February of 2019, Vela Farms & Crossroads Cruisers teamed up to bring a monthly car show downtown. On the first Saturday of every month, we serve an All You Can Eat BREAKFAST buffet. The car club members bring their cars for everyone to enjoy. They line the streets with cars and we serve homemade buttermilk biscuits with gravy AND OF COURSE JELLY, eggs, sausage, ham, country potatoes, and much more.
It’s a great opportunity to eat a great breakfast, enjoy some beautiful cars, and visit with friends. Open to the public, this event is growing fast. We are averaging between 65-100 cars each Saturday.
TEXAS COUNTRY REPORTER:
In May 2019, we were blessed to be filmed for the Texas Country Reporter program. Our segment will air in September 2019. We are so excited have such a wonderful organization tell our story!
Vela Farms is committed to providing jobs for young adults with special needs. We are proud to say we have 4 young adults with Autism on our staff. Affectionately called “my kids” by Sara, everyone is treated equally. Our team works together for the success of each other. Education, job skills and personal growth are key features success of the program.
As part of a growing downtown, Vela Farms has founded the Victoria Downtown Business Association. The VDBA is a group of business owners, real estate owners, & residents that meet regularly to tackle issue facing our downtown. Like Sara, the members of this group are passionate about the growth and success of downtown Victoria. Join the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/victoriadowntown
We don’t know where God is leading us, but we know it is going to be HUGE. We appreciate all who support us and look forward to a big, bright future!