Joan Gundermann Making vegetables grow in Houston's clay soil, pest-riddled humidity and searing heat is tough. Doing it without any pesticides or artificial fertilizers is even tougher. So, to the increasing number of people in this city who want locally grown, organic produce, Joan Gundermann is quickly becoming a celebrity. Her 70-acre farm in Wharton County is the only certified-organic outfit in the region, and for 20 years it has consistently grown some of the best-tasting, most unique fruits and vegetables available anywhere. Her freshly picked peaches and tomatoes can't be beat for flavor. Or try one of her more bizarre offerings, such as bright red carrots, purple cauliflower and heirloom kale. You'll find her wares at Central Market or through one of the city's numerous food co-ops. But to catch a fig at its freshest, meet Gundermann in person every Saturday at 3106 White Oak Drive, at the Houston Farmers' Market.

Patricia Hair Woods's cottage A few years ago, attorney Patricia Hair Woods learned that the law firm where she worked, Womble, Cotellesse & Howell, planned to demolish a neighboring Victorian cottage built in the 1890s near the Historic Sixth Ward and replace it with a parking lot. She offered to save the cottage, and embarked on a house-moving project worthy of the Wizard of Oz. "It was the widest house you can move without cutting it up," she says. Employing a tractor trailer in place of a tornado, workers set off on a 90-mile journey across back roads and rural highways. One man rode on the roof and lifted up power lines with a pole so the house could squeeze underneath. When they arrived 18 hours later at Woods's weekend retreat in Anahuac, they gently laid the house on its new plot among 150-year-old oaks and pecan trees. Woods repainted the walls, refinished the floors and preserved the original doors and moldings. Although Houston regrettably lost another historic home, the Texas countryside gained a jewel that could last another century.

Best Reason to Stay in Houston During the Summer

Juneteenth On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army led his troops into the city of Galveston, where he officially proclaimed freedom for slaves in Texas. Many in America's Deep South hadn't yet learned of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, so on this date, the freed slaves of Texas and other parts of the South really celebrated. That night, thousands flooded the streets, rejoicing in their newly announced freedom. The sweet smell of barbecue smoke filled the air. Dancing feet pounded the dirt roads, and harmonic voices sung spirituals. Today the yearly Juneteenth blues festival continues with free concerts at Miller Outdoor Theatre and Hermann Park, organized by the National Emancipation Association. The eats and drinks are out of this world, and the mood can't be topped. It's a great way to celebrate one of Texas's most important holidays.

Bill White He's a lawyer-turned-businessman and Bill Clinton's former deputy secretary of energy. He was able to attract prominent Republicans to his campaign for mayor, and he won 62 percent of the vote in the runoff that got him elected. But who is Bill White? Is he the liberal Clinton appointee fighting to find health insurance money for Houston children, or is he the conservative fighting against his so-called liberal union base to cut the pensions of city employees? Is Mayor White the man willing to take on conservatives with his traffic mobility plans -- including tow-truck regulation -- or the one who shows a willingness to take on the powerful unions -- like the police union -- by appointing outsiders to run departments? The mayor keeps the usually combative City Council under control, and so far he's found a way to appeal to the loyal audiences of Bob Lanier, Lee Brown and the Bushes. But if he ever settles on an identity, that may quickly change.

Cherryhurst Park Great parks don't always come in big packages. In fact, some of the best neighborhoods wrap around intimate spaces where people meet over a picnic blanket, under an arching bough or across a newspaper and a park bench. Stroll down Missouri Street in the heart of the Montrose and you'll notice Cherryhurst Park among the stately oaks -- some of the most elegant in the city. They invite you past the colorful murals on the small clubhouse and onto a winding path lined with flowering, subtropical plants. A compact tennis court and playground don't overwhelm the green space, which centers on a substantial grassy hillock. At a square block in size, the park is cozy, but the majestic trees, rolling lawn and creatively landscaped gardens somehow make it feel much larger. Every neighborhood deserves a park like Cherryhurst.

Meat and Verb Houston is not the best place in the world to go graffiti hunting. Most of the cats out here are merely taggers with limited skill, or have no regard for art whatsoever. But we do have a couple of superstars who take their work seriously -- and who haven't yet graduated to the legal stuff. Meat and Verb have taken over the H-town graffiti scene. The adventurous pair, hands down the 2004 champs, usually paints their unique lettering high in the sky. Some works consist of only one or two colors -- like the ones you might see high above 59 South on the green signs as you approach the Shepherd exit -- and some are straight-up masterpieces. The best way to find the work of these artists is to just look up wherever you happen to be in the center city, and there they are. You'll see Meat and Verb on billboards, walls, traffic signs... these guys are nuts!

Our thanks go out to the urban survivalists who endured the construction and found these Categories We Forgot

Best Bar Atmosphere

Red Lion Pub, 2316 S. Shepherd, 713-782-3030

Best Bloody Mary

Mary's, 1022 Westheimer, 713-527-9669

Best Dance Event

Barnevelder Movement/Art Center's Big Range Dance Festival

Best French Fries

Barnaby's Cafe, 604 Fairview, 713-522-0106; and other locations

Best Irish Pub

Brian O'Neill's, 5555 Morningside, 713-522-2603, www.brianoneills.com

Best Karaoke

Karaoke Junkie at Azteca's Margarita Bar & Grill, 2207 Richmond, 713-643-0683

Best New Store

Tansu, 321-B W. 19th, 713-880-5100, www.tansustyle.com

Best Philly Cheese Steak

Firehouse Philly's, 1111 Prairie, 713-225-3473

Best Veterinarian

Montrose Veterinary Clinic, 1701 Montrose, 713-524-3814

Best Of Houston®

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