When it comes to fresh produce, good music, local flavor, and pleasant times outdoors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, visiting a local area farmers market is your best choice.

Not Just Food

The number of markets has increased here, as elsewhere, to meet a growing demand for fresh, locally grown, organic produce, local honey, and free range meat, chicken, eggs, and cheeses. Other vendors at local markets sell flowers, honey, jams and jellies, pickles, fresh baked good, local wines, and crafts items, as well as soaps and other trinkets.

Music is a feature at many, and some have cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities, pet parades, and such things as fitness challenges and vintage car shows. At some, the produce market may be the reason for setting up, but the attraction is the associated entertainment.

The Big One

The great “granddaddy” of them all, the Dallas Farmers Market — located in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers — is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and has been operating in the same spot for more than 70 years. Most area markets, however, have a season and operate on weekends, with a few open midweek during the summer.

The City of Dallas has plans to enhance the area around its historic market. The character of the market itself will not be altered over the course of coming years, but plans call for a visionary redevelopment that will include residential units as well as restaurants, commercial, and retail uses, in addition to the traditional fresh farm-produced foods.

Most residents who frequent the market look forward to the changes. Some permanent sheds and enclosed buildings on the market grounds are slated to be retained and used for booth space, a culinary school, and cooking demonstrations. Other existing sheds will be demolished, and new parking areas are planned.

Other Area Markets

Other area markets in Dallas include some “pop-up” locations and traveling markets to serve the needs of locavores and fresh produce enthusiasts. Community-supported agriculture is also popular in the area, and area farmers designate various locations so their “shareholders” may gather to receive weekly portions of the harvest.

The Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth has a 30-year history and is the area’s original “producer-only market,” meaning that everything offered for sale is either grown, raised, or produced within 150 miles of the city. The market is open Saturdays year-round and on Wednesday mornings June through November.

Choices Abound

Numerous outlying communities, radiating in every direction from the two central cities of the Metroplex, boast their own markets. Plano joined the ranks of local markets in 2013. McKinney has two locations during the summer for its popular version of farmers market and heritage center, attracting thousands annually not only for good food but for special events as well.

To the south, Grand Prairie has a centrally located permanent market adjacent to its historic water tower and takes justifiable pride in its schedule of events, running from March through December. A Hatch Chili Festival in August imports truckloads of the flavorful green chili peppers from New Mexico, always resulting in great aromas, huge crowds, and a sold-out supply.

Keller, another relative newcomer on the scene, holds its market adjacent to its pretty central square and fountain — always tempting for the youngsters — and encourages prepared-food vendors and musicians to provide a party atmosphere.

No matter where you live, you’re bound to find a nearby market. Pick a favorite and get to know the vendors, or explore several to get a taste of all the region has to offer.