Dallas Farmers Market Stakeholders Asked How Close is Too Close?

We've been down this road to Crazyville before. Jim Schutze wanted to nuke it. That made Scott Reitz mad. At first. But then he came around too.

Now, this fine morning the Dallas Farmers Market Stakeholders Association posted this to their Facebook page:

"Question: How close is too close for the Dallas Farmers Market to be successful? With all the new urban markets and neighborhood markets popping up nearby (Woodall Rogers Deck Park, Deep Ellum, Sprouts, Etc). Should the City enforce a minimum distance requirement for small neighborhood markets selling local product?"

Below the post they linked an article about the new Green Grocer opening on Greenville Avenue. But that's 6.1 miles away, according to the route chosen by Google maps. More like 4 miles as the crow flies.

So, is the Dallas Farmers Market Stakeholders Association so petrified of competition that no squash nor tomato grown in Texas shall be sold within five miles, let's say, of downtown? Even at a store like Sprouts? Is that what they're saying? I think that's what they're saying. I asked them to please answer their own question, but haven't heard back.

I need not to chauffeur you down Nonsensical Road in Crazyville to explain how silly this idea is (yes, I know "silly" is being kind). For good measure, I asked around a bit to see what some of the local markets think about this statement.

Sara Perry with the White Rock Local Market thinks the existing ordinance is fair.

"It says that neighborhood farmers markets have to be at least one mile apart, and none can be in the central business district," Perry said. "That means only the DFM can be downtown, within the boundaries of I-30, Woodall Rodgers, I-35 and Central."

"It's just crocodile tears, that's all," said Tom Spicer, who owns Spiceman's 1410, an organic local urban garden on Fitzhugh Avenue, well within the 5-mile veggie-stand ban idea.

"They never built to suit the outdoor market for the consumer or things like leafy greens that can't shake the heat," said Spicer, referencing the $6 million city bond fund from '06.

He also notes that the smaller markets aren't anything that the DFM needs to worry about. The Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and the White Rock Local Market all cater to weekend garden warriors and folks who want to pick up a few fresh tomatoes for a dinner salad.

A big part of the business for the sheds at the DFM is wholesale -- at midnight. The small local markets couldn't even begin to supply the restaurants and hotels with the amount of fresh produce they need daily.

And, OK, I just have to throw this one crazy question out there: Don't we want people to have small local markets and stores that are easily accessible for their, dare I say it, health?

"They're over reacting and just need to work their wholesale thing," Spicer said.

Well, he actually has a lot of things to say about it, but concedes that the bullet point list on what's wrong with the DFM is just way too long. The road in Crazyville is long and winding. Maybe it's a loop.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.