Putting the Local Farmer Back in Dallas Farmers Market

Spring has sprung at Dallas Farmers Market, which means, for those planning an Easter weekend shopping spree, plentiful amounts of tomato and herb plants, greenhouse-grown tomatoes, barnyard eggs and fresh-from-the-sea salmon, the latter courtesy an Alaskan family in the area for just a short time. Also, in Shed 2, you'll find three ranchers from Hunt County offering grass-fed beef, poultry, lamb and pork -- and butter and cheese, if that ain't enough to both start and stop your heart.

But, sad truth be told, local farmers offering homegrown product -- like the items mentioned on the menu offered above -- are getting harder to find at Dallas Farmers Market. At its inception in 1941, the city's downtown market served as a hub for local farmers to hawk their goods. But in recent years, area farmers have turned their sights to more efficient and profitable ways to sell their fruit and veg -- like co-ops and wholesale operations. Which means the local contingent has shrunk to just 10 farmers who sell seasonal crops on an irregular basis out of the market’s yellow shed. Only, that's about to change.

"We're damned serious about putting the farmer back into Farmers Market," says farm coordinator Tony Johns, who's been at Farmers Market more than two decades.

This dearth of homegrown farmers has elicited plenty of kvetching from foodies, restaurateurs and eaters who just plain want to meet the people growing their food. So now, Farmers Market execs are planting seeds they hope will take root come summer: Starting in June, expect to see more than a peck (but probably less than a bushel) of local growers at the farmers market every Saturday morning.

It’s not a total farmer revolution, but it’s a step toward bringing the souk back to its roots. As Johns says, “There’s nothing more apple pie, mom, or baseball than supporting your local farmer.” --Naomi Zeveloff

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