Food News

Why's City Messing with Farmers Markets When There Ain't Many to Begin With?

On Monday, Daniel went to the council's Transportation and Environment Committee meeting where council members couldn't agree on how to regulate neighborhood farmers markets -- as in, how much it ought to cost, how many permits vendors would need and how many other roadblocks City Hall could throw up to protect its investment in the downtown farmers market. "We are definitely going to have to go back to the drawing board," Delia Jasso told the market organizers and vendors who showed up to voice their displeasure with the process.

Bike Friendly Oak Cliff's Scott Griggs has another suggestion for City Hall: To hell with regulating neighborhood markets. Which is more or less the same thing Schutze said back in December.

But Griggs -- who's president of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group and whose wife Mariana is president of Community Gardens of Oak Cliff -- has gone one step further. He tallied up the number of farmers markets in 14 cities from Manhattan to Seattle (both of which boast 39) to Dallas (a lousy seven) -- an admittedly unscientific analysis based upon how different part of the country define a farmers markets -- and concluded that City Hall's doing little more than engaging in "blatant protectionism and favoritism" for the downtown market at the expense of "a healthy urban agricultural environment." Writes Griggs:

We should all praise this small founding population of urban farmers markets. Urban agriculture is more than a single, centralized farmers market. It is the integration of sustainable food production and distribution throughout our built environment. We must understand, whether we are discussing community gardens or farmers markets, that urban agriculture in Dallas is just taking hold and we should be grateful for the opportunities presented.

Second, we should be encouraging our farmers markets to thrive. In fact, instead of spending countless hours studying how to regulate the existing farmers markets, our time would be better spent understanding what will make this small founding population survive and multiply.

I spoke with Griggs a while ago, and he added this: "I'm surprised they don't want to do a $200,000 study of the whole thing."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky