Sugar Land resident Kim Broom's love for outdoor markets is contagious.

She hopes that others will share her passion - and join her at the Farmers Market at Imperial Sugar Land, a weekly event she organizes and manages.

"I love farmers markets" Broom said. "I don't think I've ever met one that I didn't like."

She believes that her background in real estate management has helped her run a successful market.

She had retired from her career in 2003 and followed her husband, Brandon, to Singapore.

"I thought I was retired for good," she said. "But for many retirees, you get to that point, and it just doesn't work. You want to get involved with something."

So, when she moved home three years ago and learned that her sister Keri Schmidt, president of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, was working on starting up a farmers market, Broom jumped at the chance.

"For me, the market really filled a space," she said. "And it fit with my interest in food and health. It's become my full-time hobby, more than a part-time job."

Schmidt explained that Johnson Development Corp., the owner of the property, had been on the hunt for something fun to do on the grounds of the historic sugar factory.

"Really nothing had been happening there for so long, and it was their goal to make it a tremendous destination for Sugar Land," she said. "And there's been a great demand in our region for a farmers market."

Schmidt said the plan was to host a market for 10 weeks. "At our first event, we had 50 vendors and the most record-breaking day you could imagine," she said. "The vendors said, 'You can't just do this for 10 weeks.' So we made a commitment, and it has continued to thrive and grow."

Schmidt said her sister was the right woman for the job.

"You have to be up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, and it could be cold and freezing or hot and humid," she said. "Kim's been great, and she loves it. She's built great relationships with vendors."

Broom was largely inspired by the outdoor markets where she had shopped in Singapore.

"They're gorgeous and so much fun," she said. "Overseas, open-air markets are more common. That's how people shop, going from small vendor to small vendor in search of the freshest products."

Now, Broom is encouraging area residents to shop at the open-air air Farmers Market at Imperial Sugar Land, which is open every Saturday, rain or shine.

"I know it's hard for families to have the time and effort to invest in food," she said. "But farmers markets take the drudgery out of it."

Broom said the market is a perfect place to teach children about food - and she arranges scavenger hunts, seed plantings and soap making classes for kids.

Broom also arranges art vendors and live music.

"Everyone just has a good time," she said.

Broom said one of the most gratifying parts of her job is helping Texan farmers.

"It's not easy being a farmer," she said. "People have to really have a passion for farming to put in the hours it takes. Our farmers are picking produce the night before and sometimes the morning of the market."

Broom also likes helping artists and crafters get their start. "Sometimes, we're a jumping off place for people," she said. "They are encouraged by the other vendors at the market. We give people a place to gain confidence."

Broom continues to push the market forward - focusing on fresh and local products.

"The sign that you have a really healthy market is when you have vendors that sell fresh flowers and fresh seafood," she said. "Those are two things that have to be sold that day. When we get our market to that point, then we've got a top-of-the-line farmers market."

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