Forget all the politics and policies of the Dallas Farmers Market, because a new neighborhood market launched Saturday in Uptown at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, and it offers a wonderful breath-of-fresh-air take on the "produce dealers market" model of the downtown Dallas Farmers Market.
I'm not insulting those folks who make a living as a produce vendor, but I like the idea of buying locally grown fresh produce straight from the families who grow the stuff on their own acreage in North Texas. The rain-or-shine market at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs opens from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays behind the Methodist church.
Lest anyone think this is just a fly-by-night operation with no real farmers or connection to the area, it's worth noting that the market already has some serious street cred thanks to produce from Baugh Farms of Canton -- a family with deep roots and three generations invested in Dallas-area markets.
If you've ever bought peaches, blueberries, blackberries or tomatoes from J.T. Lemley at the Dallas Farmers Market, then you know how legit he is -- one of "the only actual farmers" at the market when we wrote about the market in 2010. And if you ask J.T. Lemley who got him into the market, he'll say Tommy Baugh and probably tell you he was one of Tommy's pallbearers.
On Saturday, Don Baugh and his son Charley brought four different variety of their family's fantastic heirloom tomatoes to Uptown: Lillian Gold, Abe Lincoln, The Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Purple. Charley said the Cherokee Purple were "all the rage last year." All the tomatoes were great, but the yellow Lillian variety with its subtle tropical flavor and hint of lime was my favorite.
Mary Landrum and Byron Proutt came up with the idea for the OLUMC Farmers Market. She's a 10-year member of the church, and he's the missions director. "We started thinking and talking about it last summer when we were going to some of the other farmers markets around Dallas, and we didn't want to have to drive that far," Landrum said. "We wanted one close by."
Proutt added: "We really want it to be a community event to get people out of the high-rises and outside."
The market had the usual goods one would expect from a farmers market, from fresh produce to jarred goods such as several varieties of pickles and pickled veggies, as well as relishes, jams, jellies and the like. Other vendor offerings include fresh cut sunflowers, handmade cards, wind chimes made from liquor bottles, and one booth sold scented room sprays, soaps, bath oils, "bath bombs" and shave kits.
"Oh. My. God," said one woman as she browsed the market's offerings. "This is so wonderful!"
A few booths down from the Baugh's red pickup truck, Amy Holmes from Nevada, Texas, talked with customers about her immaculate-looking tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, bright purple onions, green beans, red potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplants, peaches and beets. (Customers should arrive early for the best selection. The farmers sold out of their goods on Saturday, but Proutt says they expect a total of four farmers out next week, with two vendors selling pickled goods.)
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Next weekend, Proutt said there would be barbeque courtesy Mr. BBQ, who we we believe is the same guy behind "The Super Q."
This is no "dirty" market "filled with cars and pigeons, and difficult to navigate." It's easy to get in and get out with your haul.
The only thing that could make this place any closer to heaven in Uptown would be if Pecan Lodge sold their brisket and sausage paired with the collard greens and mac and cheese. But for now let's all pray they keep the OLUMC Farmers Market small and vendor-free (other than the local artisans), and that these farmers keep bringing in such amazing produce.
The Oak Lawn Farmers Market is located at 3014 Oak Lawn Ave.