Seeds of Hope for Dallas Farmers Market

Long negotiations could plant something cool at the southeast corner of downtown.

But I was able to chat up Suhm, who was upbeat. She said the new privatized project, once it rolls out, will bring major comprehensive change. "This project is going to have restaurants, retail, housing, growers, crafts, the whole nine yards."

I asked her about some issues that came up when I spoke with property owners and stakeholders in the surrounding area. For example, the homeless issue. Robin McCaffrey, a planner and urban designer with Mesa Design Group who works with landholders in the area, told me he thinks there are ways to alleviate some friction by simply remapping major paths for foot traffic.

Suhm said the city's all over that and it's already part of the deal. She said, for example, that the city will help The Bridge, the main public homeless shelter, reconfigure its front entrance so that the shortest footpath to The Bridge is no longer straight across the market.

Stephanie Embree

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Email the author at jim.schutze@dallasobserver.com.

I asked her what the hold-up is. Why is this all in some kind of informational lock-down in which people don't feel comfortable spilling their guts to Jim Schutze the way they're supposed to? She said "It's a complex deal that you've got to negotiate with a lot of people."

I can see that. For one thing, this is the kind of project that can look rosier in the telescope than it does on the ground. I spoke last week with Tom Spicer, the specialty produce broker on North Fitzhugh Avenue by Jimmy's Market, who gave me a whole seminar on how the produce business works and does not work. He said the notion of the small farmer who makes his living hauling crops to a stall in the city is for the most part an urban myth.

Spicer explained to me that farmers don't have the time or very often the bent of mind to know and grow exactly the right products for stall sales at any given moment. He said a viable market capable of keeping its farmers in business has to include some element of wholesale brokerage to move the bulk of a farmer's product around to those points in the marketplace — restaurants, grocery stores, other wholesalers — that he can't get to just by coming to his stall.

So if Spicer is right, a farmers market won't work if it's premised on Joe Farmer coming to town every day to sell his beets to Betty. He needs to be able to sell some beets to Betty and more beets to American Food Service.

These protracted closed-door negotiations have become a source of nervousness for the major landholders all around the farmers market, all of which will make a buy-in by them trickier and trickier the longer this goes on. Leslie Ingendorf, whose family has been in the wholesale produce and landlord business there for a half century, says, "They've been very secretive. What's going on and what the plan is, I have no idea.

"It wouldn't surprise me if the city was trying to stall the area and take the property almost by eminent domain or something like that. I get so frustrated with the city, I have no idea what they're going to do."

In spite of all that, Suhm is resolute and optimistic that a new privatized reborn farmers market will be the wave that floats all boats in the entire southeast corner of downtown. I asked her if her wave will be as cool as the one they're building in Grand Rapids, the Uncool Capital of America.

"Ours will be better," she said. "We're excited about the project. It's going to take a while to get it done. But if we all focus on what we're trying to get done in each area and remember that we're all neighbors and we all have to live on this earth, I think we can get this settled out."

Great. Let's see, what all was that list again? Stay focused. All neighbors. Live on this earth. McCaffrey's thing about footpaths. Spicer's wholesale issue. Ingendorf's problem with secrecy. I asked Suhm when she hopes to get this all wrapped up and have something to take to the City Council.

"We're aiming at spring, probably April-Mayish," she said.

Wow. I need to go out right now and shop for one of those burlap over-the-shoulder grocery bags with a French picture on it. I fully intend to be cool when cool comes to town.

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5 comments
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

The main problem with DFM, is the same wholesalers selling the tired produce in false bottom baskets.  I like their trick of your pointing out a basket of something, they pick it up, turn out of sight to ostensibly put the produce in a plastic bag and what you get back looks absolutely nothing like what you picked out.

 

I also like the one wholesaler with the "Local Produce" sign who sells bananas and pineapples ...

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What happened to Spectrum Properties?  They were selected in August by the city to develop the market project. 

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

 @FMStakeholder  @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 

Hey Stakeholder

Unless you are blinded to it.

As a Stakeholder you really know what kind of uninviting grimy filthy  like a grease trap that area is . <-------More polite than calling it a S*it hole

 

The wrong headed thinking starts here ! "

 

"But I was able to chat up Suhm, who was upbeat. She said the new privatized project, once it rolls out, will bring major comprehensive change. "This project is going to have restaurants, retail, housing, growers, crafts, the whole nine yards."

 

That is putting the cart way ahead of the horse .

 

Especially when A bucket of soap and water good lighting and a Fresh coat of Paint would do wonders .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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