City of Plano Pushes Back on Farmers' Market Fight

Categories: Food News

Spring Creek Organic
Farm fresh organic produce from Plano that will probably never be sold in Plano.

Update from Kari Gates: "We've been told the hearing and the vote can be on the same evening because of the way they posted it."

Kari Gates grows seasonal fruits and vegetables over several acres of land at Spring Creek Organic Farms in Plano. She drives her produce to several markets around the region, including Greenling. But, more recently she's exploring her options closer to home, particularly Fairview Farms near U.S. 75 north of Parker Road.

"It was built specifically in the '90s to be a farmers' market," explained Gates. "They have one produce vendor out there, but he is just a reseller. In the '90s they had other vendors, but city permit fees went to $300 and most of the vendors at the time could not afford that. The owner ended up converting a good portion of the spaces into office space and has leased it out since then."

In a somewhat futile effort, Gates has been working with the Plano Health Department to get the definitions of the farmers' market broadened to allow for more vendors; as it stands now it restricts meat, cheese, dairy and packaged goods.

According to the city of Plano, they've been working on tweaking those definitions for more than a year. In their preliminary City Council meeting Monday (available online) Brian Collins, director of environmental health, explains that they've been working on a set of "regional guidelines."

"We decided to step out in front [of the state] and they're watching very closely what we're doing here in Plano," said Collins. This is the group that also went to Austin to fight the Cottage Food Laws.

Collins and his department presented a slide show of the worst of farmers markets around the country. They specifically used pictures from the Dallas Farmers' Market as their counterargument, which while a valid point, is a bit banal. There are many wonderful farmers markets around the city and country. Plano should use this as an opportunity to "show 'em how it's done."

In terms of getting the farmers market ordinance changed in favor of local farmers, things aren't looking too hot. They're primarily focused on "safety" (which is a big Plano City Council meeting buzzword) and "mitigating" (another buzzword) illness. The highlight reel from a draft of the proposed changes to the "ordinance" (token buzzword) would:

• Limit products to only vegetables.
• Require vendors to submit a list of all their produce five days before the market opens.
• Require a certified food manager be on duty at all times.
• Require every person who works at the market, including volunteers, to take a two-hour food handlers course.

C'mon Plano. You're a really healthy crew already. You don't need organic farm fresh veggies.

The next board meeting is on November 12. The mayor told Gates he wanted to have a public meeting on the issue at the last meeting, which would allow more residents to voice their opinions. But, the health department also wants to put the new guidelines on the agenda for the next meeting, which would kill the public meeting. As Gates explained, you can't have a public meeting about something that is on the agenda.

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I believe there are far more unsanitary food handling procedure going on within most Plano grocery stores than would ever occur at a farmer's market.


Plano health codes (and most throughout the US) do more to burden businesses with exorbitant permit fees and fines for innocuous violations than actually protecting people.


If you go to Mexico you'll find workers in the deli and any food prep area wearing hair nets and masks covering their nose and mouth. You definitely don't see that meat of fish counter at Central Market.


Customers in grocery stores in Italy are required to wear plastic gloves - provided by the store - if they are handling produce. If you dare use your bare hand you'll quickly get an Italian scolding by the produce guy as he wags a plastic glove in your face. 


Next time you're in Tom Thumb picking over the tomatoes with your grubby hands, keep in mind hundreds of people with way worse hygiene habits have been molesting those same tomatoes.


The food business is subject to a variation of the laws of natural selection - you serve weak-ass crappy food and eventually you go out of business. 


The Plano health department is proof that Nazis from WWII Germany are still around.  They are the worst example of government arrogance.  They stopped a church from giving away roasted chickens, wouldn't let visitors to a festival taste the chili from a chili cook-off, and in general try to discourage any success in any endeavor.  Have you ever seen them walking around the Balloon Festival?  They strut around looking like they are dying to shut someone down.  The state is looking at us to see what we come up with?  Give me a break!!!  How do all these other successful farmer's markets exist with no epidemic of death, but that can't work in Plano?  No wonder all the business is moving elsewhere!  Get with it Health Department!!!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

This is a perfect example of how republicans "encourage" small business.


A few years ago, I talked with the Plano Health Department regarding my interest in selling produce that I had grown in my back yard. I was told that Plano currently would not allow it, because they have no way of inspecting residential properties to ensure food safety. A specific hazard that was mentioned to me by them was the West Plano land that formerly had cotton fields growing on them; these fields were sprayed with arsenic compounds, which would present a hazard if produce were sold after growing on those lands. We are, however, allowed to give away said produce. I was assured three years ago that Plano is looking very hard at setting up real farmer's markets, modeled after the Dallas Farmer's Market.


I have sent a petition to my local representative asking him to sponsor new legislation to outlaw the use of the non-word 'veggie' by anyone over the age of four. Because really. Isn't that a week one lesson in journalism school? "Only use words that actually exist outside of vapid toddler babble".


Seriously. Are we adults?


Boy, that turd never took off; you go to that locale any random day, and 1 guy is selling fruits and veggies-and shite ain't cheap!  People are more interested in going to Joe's Crab Shack across the parking lot.  That place used to have a cool general store (Skaggs?) and an awesome place to ride horses; now sadly, it's just the incredibly lame Duke's and a bunch of Llama's that run away when you look at them.  


ps-They found an alligator in that creek behind FF a couple of years ago.


 @pooua I can almost promise you, they're not using Dallas as a guide. Watch the meeting online. They ARE working on a market, it's just that the guidelines are so restrictive, very few will be there. 

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

 @Jake_Stone Good grief, Jake. This obsession of yours makes me wonder if a turd has ever escaped that tight-ass of yours.



ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @Jake_Stone "Seriously?"  what are you a tween valley girl from the early 90's? Fuck


 @Jake_Stone I think we've had this discussion. I cannot confirm nor deny that we are adults here. You jused the sentence "Because really." See! You use slang too. Veggie is a fun word. It rolls of the tounge (eyeballs) easy. But, more importantly, what do you think about the City of Plano's view on farmers' markets? 

Veggie out - Lauren 




Thank you, bureaucracy is bureaucracy........I've come to realize that Plano's infrastructure is the finest anywhere; I travel extensively to other ports and wonder how Plano runs such a tight, and effective ship. EVERYTHING IS GREAT IN PLANO, it just has minimal tree's and zero mountains. 


 @danielslauren  @kergo1spaceship  Lauren, I'm going to tell you, a journalist, a secret, something I would hate to have people know about me. I go skinny-dipping and enjoy nude recreation in the creeks, streams and fields around here. One time, I was wading stark naked in thigh-high water in a creek in Garland at dusk, when I spotted some bubbles in the water ahead of me. They caught my attention because they formed exactly the proportions of an alligator's head, and the "nose" was pointed directly towards me. I froze and thought, "No, it can't be! I *know* there are no alligators in this creek!" All I could think to do was place my waterproof bag that contained my clothes that I had been towing behind me in front of me. Just before the bubbles reached me, they turned in the current and passed me, and I continued on my way.


The alligator population doesn't really bother me. Hardly any of them get North of Dallas. I'm more concerned about cottonmouth and copperhead snakes and snapping turtles.


 @sophee  The numbers from the 2008 Presidential Election sure don't support that claim.

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