In many respects, farmers’ markets have existed forever – or at least ever since farmers began growing their own produce and then traveling to town to sell or barter their leftovers. But our modern notion of the farmer’s market – where multiple farmers in a region gather to sell their freshest produce – first gained traction around the country in the 1970s and 80s.
In recent years, with increased concerns over pesticide use and the safety of the food supply, farmers’ markets have seen a huge boost in popularity, and expanded to sell breads, jams and all sorts of extraordinary artisanal products. Indeed, in some cities, like Los Angeles and its Hollywood Farmers’ Market or New York and its Union Square Greenmarket, the farmer’s markets are community gathering spaces and tourist destinations in their own right.
The bad news first: Fort Worth isn’t quite that far along when it comes to farmers’ market culture. For many years, the main option has been the Cowtown Farmers’ Market, located in a parking lot off the Benbrook Traffic Circle, which usually features a dozen or so vendors each Wednesday and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon. The produce is consistently excellent, especially in recent years, as more and more farmers have committed to all-organic growing. The drawbacks: Vendors tend to sell out quickly (usually by 10:30 a.m.); and the southwest Fort Worth location can be difficult to get to on a regular basis.
But now for the more exciting news: Two new farmers’ market options have emerged over the last year, much closer to the center of town. So for those looking to cook up a fresh, locally sourced dinner, or those here to visit Fort Worth and eager to sample its homegrown wares, consider these options:
Cowtown Farmer’s Market, Cultural District: Beginning last year, the Cowtown Farmer’s Market set up a satellite farmer’s market, held each Thursday afternoon, in the museum district, in the UNT Health Center parking lot. The twist here is that it’s an afternoon market, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The market’s organizer, Gwin Grimes told the Star-Telegram: “This is when grocery stores are busy. Customers can stop by on their way home and grab dinner.” (Grimes is owner of Artisan Baking Co., which sells its breads and fresh pastas at the market.)
BRIT Farmers’ Market: Also last year, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), located next to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, just west of downtown, launched a monthly farmer’s market, held the first Saturday of each month, from April through October. (The next one is on June 7.) It's quickly become one of my favorite Fort Worth attractions. The vendors include a number of smaller, family-run farms, whose vegetables have been picked fresh that morning. We’re also utterly obsessed with the jams and pickles sold by the Fort Worth-based In a Pickle Foods. (Pick up a jar of the Orangy Fig Jam – thank us later.)
Finally, if you want to enjoy brunch here, there are also usually food trucks on site; and after you’re finished shopping, you can take a stroll through the leafy grounds, or head over to nearby Trinity Park for a picnic.