They Want Us to Save the Dallas Farmers Market. But What If, Instead, We Didn't?

Farmers Market Flickr.jpg
Flickr
Farmers markets can (and should) pop up anywhere. And they don't have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When Jim Schutze wrote a story calling for the demise of a farmers market, I was pissed. What kind of out-of-touch a-hole doesn't like farmers markets? Who doesn't love spending $28 on a local pumpkin for their autumn pie? Who doesn't like driving though downtown to shop in a building that's a total eyesore?

I was planning a massive Schutze take-down on City of Ate. I was even going to throw fresh, local, farm-grown (where else would they grow) tomatoes at the guy's pickup truck. And then I read his article.

Schutze basically argues, and pretty compellingly, that the whole thing is a failure and always will be. He talks about hundreds of thousands of dollars squandered a year and the incessant harassment of homeless people. He talks about the misuse of prime real estate and racial tensions in Dallas. He even talks to Tom "Spiceman" Spicer, the one guy who should really stand up for the Dallas Farmers Market, right?

Nope. He says kill it, too. That the downtown market offered too little, too late. "We missed the boat."

Huh.

Maybe the Dallas Farmers Market is a waste. I've visited it a handful of times, and while I've eaten a ton of brisket, I've never bought a vegetable or fruit there. I think it was the scale that threw me off. So many big vendors selling so much stuff that looked like grocery store produce more than it looked like farmers-market produce. Sure, there were some stands with the real-deal local stuff, but mostly the whole thing felt like a failure.

Now City Hall wants to wash its hands clean of the mess. Maybe they read Schutze's article, or maybe they needed to free up a few hundred grand to hire some more restaurant inspectors, but they're looking for a private entity to take the whole thing over, and hopefully fix it.

An organization called Dallas Farmers Market Friends is predictably upset. They posted a petition online and gathered a list of articles they say tells both sides of the story. (Schutze's copy didn't make the cut.) They're also encouraging people who care about the market to attend a public meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m. at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. The Dallas Farmers Market is a prominent and special part of Dallas' history, according to their website.

But what if became history?

Those farmers wouldn't lay down their spades and quit farming. They'd go somewhere else. The shoppers would go somewhere else, too. Imagine if all those Uptowners could actually WALK to purchase their overpriced tomatoes. They're only going to do it if the market is a vibrant, strong and fun place to be. Maybe a new market would spring up in Oak Lawn. The White Rock Local Market held every other month might start convening every weekend, and Urban Acres might not have to close a few days a week.

These smaller markets should be thriving and injecting local food products directly into neighborhoods. That's the whole point. There's something about gassing up the Civic to take the kids downtown to the Farmers Market that just doesn't sound right.

Don't get me wrong. I love great ingredients, and I love farmers, too. But while I understand the attachment to the Dallas Farmers Market, I can't help but to wonder how its closure might actually improve all these smaller, better located markets, and whether we all might be better off in the end

Location Info

Map

Dallas Farmers Market

1010 S. Pearl, Dallas, TX

Category: General


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
57 comments
Dangerchris
Dangerchris

This reads as if it was written by a middle-school student.  Then again, now that Wilonsky is gone, everything on this site reads as if it was written by a middle-school student.

Brvinson
Brvinson

I live across the street from the market and go almost every weekend. Fits the most part, the produce is much cheaper than grocery stores. Depends on what's in season.

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

Well, there are two options here: Install a Ferris Wheel or put it at the other end of a "Signature Bridge".

(and by "Signature Bridge", I don't mean, "The Bridge".)

Raul Santillan
Raul Santillan

The Dallas Farmers Market is a huge part of Dallas history.... for those of you who claim you are all "true Dallasites" or very "local/organic" (and I don't mean the produce). It's ridiculous to me that you would even think that getting rid of yet another Dallas Landmark would help this city... it amazes me how some people love to write about saving some old trashed up buildings, but the one true gem that we have in downtown Dallas is the Farmers Market. You mean to tell me you would rather save an old building that hasn't been used for years, but yet you would get rid of something that has employed generations of families. Sounds kinda hypocritical to me.

Dallas Farmers Market has a very near and dear place to my heart. My grandfather came to this country with nothing and the one place he could rely on for work was the Dallas Farmers Market, as a street sweeper, and not one that drives one of those fancy "street sweepers" but the guy you see with a broom and a pan picking up trash. The memories I have growing up of us going with him to work and just playing around the market as he swept are some of the most best memories I have of grandpa. The time he took to come to our house every morning before school to make us fresh squeezed orange juice with oranges from "La Marketa"... to this day, are the most cherished memories me and my family have of him.

Should the market be privatized? If it means improving the Market then YES! I remember the days when going to the market meant something... when all 4 sheds were packed with farmers and yes... PEOPLE everywhere! It can still be that place. When was the last time you went by there?... it's alot easier than you think to gas up that civic and make the drive down there and support local producers...

Melissa
Melissa

The only reason I ever go anymore is to get fresh black-eyed peas because it is the only place I can still find them.  

Farmers Market Stakeholder
Farmers Market Stakeholder

Spoken like someone who has not spent much time at the Dallas Farmers Market or the suburban markets they reference. The Dallas Farmers Market has incredible potential with the right operator and developer. Families, visitors and downtown residents crave the "experience" of a historical urban market with retail,restaurants and walkability.  How can you compare a suburban market that is open 2x's a month to a historical landmark like the Downtown Dallas Farmers Market.  The City of Dallas is trying to get people to move downtown, but there needs to be developments downtown that are not cookie cutter and raise the standards for the area.Perfect example, Intown Homes townhomes breaking ground across the street from the DFM with a $350,000+ price tag.  The selling feature on these townhomes is being near the DFM. The reason the Dallas Farmers Market has failed is due to poor management, failure of execution, lack of support from city leaders and due to The Bridge homeless shelter across the street.  The city needs to get out of the business and turn it over to a qualified and experienced urban operator with a long term plan and The Bridge entrance needs to be moved to the southern side of the building (away from the DFM entrance) to ake it less convenient for the homeless crossing the street to panhandle and loiter. The new operator needs to get rid of the hourly security and hire off duty neighborhood patrol to enforce a zero tolerance policy with the safety.  We don't see vagrants walking around uptown, sunflower or whole foods panhandling......because they will not allow it.  Period!The historical significance and location in the core downtown business district (blocks from the new convention hotel, arts district and headington's new project) is an amazing opportunity. 

Scott, try Graham's Peaches, Paul's corn on the cob, Old World Sausage Salami and the Fudge guy's carmel, salt pecan fudge. While your at it....stop by Ruibal's incredible store and hit Amigo's Pottery.  Report back your findings.

Bmlshield
Bmlshield

Ate at Pecan Lodge recently and it was FANTASTIC. Also bought some fruits and veggies. Got home and looked at the pineapple. The pineapple had a "Dole" tag on it. Damn.

Kim Pierce
Kim Pierce

A generation ago, the Dallas Farmers Market was a farmers market that people flocked to for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Those outlying, suburban markets? Ham-fisted bungling by the city of Dallas drove the farmers away from the Dallas market, and the outlying markets were a natural outgrowth. Go to Coppell or McKinney to see how they have thrived.

There are so many ways the city has ruined this market, not the least of which is favoring the produce dealers, because they pay rent year-round. Every so often, someone from the media "discovers" this shed (No. 3) and that the produce is the same thing they find at the grocery store. And the real farmers (in Shed No. 1 behind the line of grandfathered dealers) take another hit.

I've written two op-eds in the Dallas Morning News: one about Dallas' bungling of the market and one about  the real possibility for turn-around four years ago.

f you've ever been to thriving farmers markets in other cities, you know what's possible.

Justin Collins
Justin Collins

The smaller markets are a completely different experience than the Dallas Farmers Market. These pop up and niche markets are great, but they serve a different purpose. Our Dallas Farmers market is a historical treasure. It is one of the last remaining pieces of history left in our city. It is an expansive area that can play host to large events and provide our downtown resurgence with a unique shopping experience. Losing this market would be devastating on many levels unless your preference is for a city filled with only brand new buildings and lacking any connection to Dallas' storied and unique past. We have so few of these opportunities left and I will protect this one with everything I have. I hope others are willing to do the same! We can make the Farmers Market a great destination for citizens, families and visitors alike if we all work together with help from the City of Dallas.

Jjcollins75
Jjcollins75

The smaller markets are a completely different experience than the Dallas Farmers Market. These pop up and niche markets are great, but they serve a different purpose. Our Dallas Farmers market is a historical treasure. It is one of the last remaining pieces of history left in our city. It is an expansive area that can play host to large events and provide our downtown resurgence with a unique shopping experience. Losing this market would be devastating on many levels unless your preference is for a city filled with only brand new buildings and lacking any connection to Dallas' storied and unique past. We have so few of these opportunities left and I will protect this one with everything I have. I hope others are willing to do the same! We can make the Farmers Market a great destination for citizens, families and visitors alike if we all work together with help from the City of Dallas.

primi timpano
primi timpano

Haven't had a decent tomato from the farmer's market for the past two seasons.  None from CM or WF either.  Tom Spicer knows what he talks about; who else out there actually grows from behind the store?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

why do I have the gut feeling that the only reason we let large producers in the farmers market is because the city thought that its local farmers couldnt support and maintain the market by themselves...oh and the larger producers probably write nice size checks to those that matter

G_David
G_David

Please don't ever expect Tom "Spiceman" Spicer to be the voice of reason.  Ever.

Greenvillite
Greenvillite

Scott's view is typical Dallas - forever chasing the new and leaving our history in a pile of rubble in our wake.  And his view is from someone who hasn't bothered to learn all about all of the great things the DFM offers.  For instance, during the growing season (May to Sept), local farmers bring their product to market on Thursday nights at the Chef's Walk - local chefs and foodies get first dibs, get to meet the growers (if you are into that sort of thing) and sometimes enjoy live music or an improptu bar-b-q.  The Market also offers an affordable opportunity for entrepreneurs to start their local business - Shed 2 has a number of good restaraunts and retailers started by people who wouldn't be able to afford traditional retail space.  Need to get your knives sharpened?  Drop them off while you shop.  Interested in grass-fed beef or straight from the gulf coast seafood, check out the vendors in Shed 2.  I am all for the roadside veggie sales and small regional markets, but where do you think most of those people get the products they sell?  Yep.  Many of the people selling you tomatoes or melons in McKinney or at White Rock bought their product by the case on Thursday night at the Chef's Walk.  The Market is more than just a place to buy pricey cucumbers.  It is an integrated food retail experience where you can eat at local restaurants, buy already grown food, buy specialty products like spices and pasta, and buy plants to grow your own.  Plus, with a market like the DFM, there is a hope that health inspectors are watching how your food is stored and handled.  Don't think for a second anyone is looking into that at your local parking lot market.  With all the great things going on at the Market, with the local business near the Market and for the residents who live near the Market, I think this is an issue that bear more than a casual, flippant response from someone who isn't a stakeholder. 

John Neely Bryan
John Neely Bryan

There are a handful of good farmers at the Dallas market, but they are the exception and don't get prominent locations. We don't exactly live in the Rio Grande valley so we are always going to have a bit of a handicap when it comes to produce, but we should be able to get fresh local eggs, meat, & dairy easier than we can. (anyone have a good source for local butter?)

Pecan Lodge has shown the downtown market can be viable; but with options like WRLM & Bolsa Market it needs to make some changes or it will die.

db
db

I would love to shop there every week - I live close by, but I want fresh stuff from real farmers and neither is available - so I end up going about once a year to see if anything has changed - sadly the answer is always "no"

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Don't be so quick to think neighborhood Farmer's Markets would be better. They may start that way, but in an effort to have a steady cash flow, they'll allow any and every vendor in. Next to that tomato stand... a lady selling bows for toddlers. Get your strawberries and Noni juice/Visalus/Shakeology/Monavie over there! ETC.

Yes, there is "stuff that looked like grocery store produce". Did you go to the local farmers shed?

And lastly, the vendor application process (for not-farmers) needs to be overhauled. As usual, Dallas has to make things complicated.

Myrandakae
Myrandakae

I hate going to the farmers market. I get yelled at by homeless people every time and the produce that most vendors offer there is subpar. I can buy the veggies that the vendors sell at central market for the same prices. I think that the dallas farmers market is a waste of money and space, and also a waste of veggies that do not get purchased. maybe once I can afford to not live in an east dallas apartment with no lawn, or balcony, I will just start growing my own veggies.

Jflash
Jflash

Trader Joes will destroy what is left of the farmers market.

Hummingbird_produce
Hummingbird_produce

I think you have hit on something here! The Dallas Farmers Market has become covered up by commercial "commodity" sellers. The local real farmers have to meet their buyers at 4am in the morning on the parking lot of shed 4 and be gone by 8am! Is this so the "Commodity" sellers can have the room for their imports? Being a grower here in the North Texas area, and seeing road side fruit stand "farmers" buying from the large commodity sellers at the Dallas Farmers Market then selling to the unknowing public the vegetables and fruits from who knows where, or what country or practice just turns my stomach. I am all for the smaller markets like White Rock Lake Market, Brick Street Market in Corsicana Texas or even the full on set of C.S.A. Providor Farms being your source for REAL Fresh Local Produce!

foodbitch
foodbitch

One year I bought all my Thanksgiving fruits and veggies at the Farmer's Market. It was not expensive. And it felt good. Did Thanksgiving taste better that year? Not really. I'm sad to hear the Farmer's Market is in danger because I do think it's a great place to spend a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. I wish that something could be done to improve it rather than shutter it, but I realize things like that take money -- and people truly dedicated to the cause. Its loss would really be a shame, in my opinion.

Dallasthomas
Dallasthomas

Completely, but respectfully disagree.   It is not out of the reach for Dallas to have a market capable of rivaling any other city's fabulous markets.  I will continue to fight the good fight -- and I will continue to buy local produce grown by North Texas farmers, I will support the independent vendors who have their businesses and livelihoods at the market and I will be ever grateful that it is available to me. -- Donna Thomas

jon from TJs
jon from TJs

well thought out - schutze has his style and goes for swift-style satire to make his point.  and sadly swift-style satire actually makes good policy in this town.  Dallas can't run a farmers market.  what on earth makes us believe dallas can save farmers market?

they are fighting upstream.  its not a farmers market problem per se.  its a downtown problem.  you know, we're the only big city in america that can't figure out how to create a viable downtown.

not enough residential to support it.

i'm all in favor of the save farmers market effort.  but i've also lived in dallas long enough to know how this story ends.  sad sad sad all the way around.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

The major challenge with our "Farmers Market" is the true lack of farmers running their business. Most of the stuff you see sold in the fruits and veg department are from factory farms, not independents.  I've always said the LA Farmers Market and Seattle's Public Market are models we should look at adapting for Dallas, as they have vendors for not only fruit and veg, but amazing shops that sell meat, fish and baked goods. Also, the restaurants are amazing to boot. I had the one of best tacos i've ever ate at Loteria and excellent ice cream from Bennetts, businesses that have been in the LAFM for years..That's what I want from my Farmers Market, a place where I can do my actual shopping, eat at and meet my friends and neighbors for an after-work drink...

Ned Hamson
Ned Hamson

Don't get me wrong,love all that's in Dallas and the people who live there too. But while I understand the attachment to Dallas, I can't help but to wonder how its closure might actually improve all these smaller, better located suburbs, and whether we all might be better off in the end - if Dallas did not survive. Kidding - point is - it is way too easy to convince ourselves that anything that is not thriving and making a profit should be dumped!

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Key phrase: "The Dallas Farmers Market has incredible potential WITH THE RIGHT OPERATOR AND DEVELOPER." (I added the emphasis to make a point.)

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Why in the world would you think a pineapple was grown locally?

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

I have seen the local section as well, but if the whole thing isn't local, it's really just an open air grocery store.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

You poor thing. I'm glad to hear you made it out of there before those mean, nasty homeless people tried to kill you. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

That is the most insane thing i've ever heard...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I look at the DAFM like this: Its current "owners" are inept. It needs a serious revamp to survive(i.e. making it a year-round destination) and that can be accomplished via private/non prof ownership...The current setup needs to be reviewed and rebuilt similar to shed 2(i.e. enclosed) and the new ownership will need to be willing to kick in serious money to build out the site...

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 I hate all grammar nazis, however, at the risk of sounding like one, I think the word you want when you use "swift-style" is "Swiftian - of or related to Jonathan Swift" Good, and fairly accurate comparison nevertheless.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

The residential is coming (and too an extent has been here somewhat), I'm moving into the InTown Homes development across the street from the Market and have lived downtown for about 5 years (DP&L and now the Merc). I've frequented the Market often, there's so much potential if it can hang on while more people move downtown and a private owner can be found that wants to make a go of it. Guess we'll see, it's hard to be optimistic with the ineptitude of our city council and the "fuck it, pave it" mentality of most developers.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

LAFM is mostly gone from what it was, replaces with overflow from The Grove mall next door. Sure, some of the old food places are still there, but not really "farmers". Last month I hit the weekend market in Silverlake. Not really a farmer market, but more like a craft fair with food, but still yummy. LA is a horrible example, because you can walk into a local Ralph's or small fruteria and get great local stuff because it is California

Dallasthomas
Dallasthomas

Chris -- try the fabulous Tex-Mex in Shed 2. 

Hummingbird_produce
Hummingbird_produce

Maybe not dumped but surely revamped. Outlaw any imported stuff. The Real market here in Corsicana requires the principals to visit the actual farm! See the stuff growing! Now I know Dallas Market is a much larger market....but if we got back to the original reason it was established...the local farmer to have a venue to sell his produce, then we have a win for the farmer and the buying public. After all the whole purpose for a farmers market is to offer sustainably grown fruit and produce void of pesticides, herbicides, or any other chemcials.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

What are you talkin' bout? I bought myself a pineapple tree from this feller behind the 7 11 in my neighborhood, oh, about 2 years ago. Of course, it hasn't produced any pineapples, yet.....but, hey! Wait a sec! Son of a bitch! 

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

 In all of the years I've been going to the Dallas Farmers Market, I have never once been bothered by a homeless person.  Unless you're calling the one's selling the newspapers the one's bothering you, it isn't bad down there anymore.  Quit looking at them like they're nobody and they'll leave you alone.

Myrandakae
Myrandakae

I'm not talking bad about homeless people, i just would rather not be yelled at and called gringa and white bitch whilst buying my produce.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I would, but they dont seem to keep evening hours...another negative w/ this "market"..they shutter around 6...

Borborygmus
Borborygmus

I'm sorry, maybe it's just me. But I don't see a bunch of farmers waiting in line to sell their goods. Y'know what I'm saying?

There is more empty space at the market than full, and it is NOT because the city/market hasn't spent thousands and thousands of dollars trying to make these relationships. They have. They even had a full time employee devoted to it for several years. Increasing the number of farmers failed because the Farmers (with a few exceptions, granted) have no interest in bringing their product to market for the cost and hassle it represents. Farms on the fringe of Dallas, like Hamm's in Keller, don't need to bring their goods to market, they can sell it there and still spend the day working at the farm. I also believe that our weird property tax system plays a role, wherein claiming an "ag credit" reduces the amount of tax to a point where so much land can be devoted to grazing cattle instead of fruit and produce production.

I've loved the pop-up market idea for years, and see no reason why every Dallas Library or Community Center couldn't host one on any given weekend. Parking is there, bathrooms are accessible, and as Scott points out, it is far more reasonable to expect people to go to one that is actually in their neighborhood.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

I'd like to see more info on the vendors, particularly if any can claim to be organic. Right now all the produce vendors are in a race to the bottom price wise because none of them can differentiate themselves. Lots of people would pay more for organic or at least knowing which farm it was they were supporting.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

A pineapple TREE? I must smoke what you've been smoking.... and bring me to this feller at 7-11. After our visit, we can make rogue frito pies.

mark
mark

The best way to deal with all the less-thans out there is to avoid eye contact. Keep your Gucci bag close, but don't walk any faster. They can smell fear. Pretend you have a gun from that shop in HP we heard about a while back.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

I've never been called a derogatory name while at the Farmer's Market (at least not that I'm aware of). And if so, so what? Sticks and stones and all.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

Call em some type of expletive back. White girls can be scary, too. You gotta get mean sometime in the big city!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...