Fort Worth Farm to Table
When I was about four, my parents took my younger sister and me to the Dallas Farmers Market.
All I remember of that trip was that we got sticks of sugar cane to chew on and that my two-year-old sister grabbed a handful of jalapeños and then rubbed her eyes. While I was thrilled with the sugar cane, it was not a wildly successful trip to the farmers market, and we did not return.
Fast forward 30-plus years to when my sister was living in Seattle. During one of my visits, she told me we were going to the Ballard Farmers Market to get things for dinner. After reminding her of our less-than-successful trip to the Dallas Farmers Market and laughing at her exasperated snort of derision, we headed out with our reusable bags.
The Ballard Farmers Market was (and is) as different from the Dallas Farmers Market of the 1970s as night is to day. There are two city blocks chock full of local produce, flowers, cheese, meats, honey, baked goods, soaps, essential oils, foraged foods, and all manner of other things. (The Ballard Farmers Market forbids re-selling, where a vendor goes to a supplier to purchase products that are not their own.) My sister and I discovered some of the most delicious produce and incredible cheeses for our dinner that night.
Fortunately, we Fort Worthians have two splendid farmers markets which provide locally-grown (no re-selling allowed), seasonal products. Located on the Weatherford traffic circle in front of Edelweiss German restaurant, the Cowtown Farmers Market is a Saturday morning tradition of long standing in Fort Worth. It is open from 8 am to noon every Saturday, and it proudly forbids re-selling. I love being able to shop for local, seasonal products at home, and every time I need to get out of a culinary rut (which seems to happen frequently), I head over to the traffic circle to stretch my cooking muscles.
Like its older sibling, the Clearfork Farmers Market also offers locally grown, seasonal products with no-reselling allowed. Located at the Trailhead at Clearfork and open from 8 am to noon, the Clearfork Farmers Market has quickly become a Saturday morning destination for local families. In fact, the Clearfork market has become so popular, many of the vendors from the Cowtown market have opened a second booth at Clearfork!
A quick note on re-selling: this practice is not illegal, but it seems vaguely dishonest to me. If a farmer’s market allows vendors to re-sell products which they have purchased from a supplier, you as the consumer cannot be sure that the tomatoes or jams or cheeses or blueberries that you are purchasing are local. As both Cowtown and Clearfork markets forbid re-selling, they are supporting North Texas farmers and producers.
As consumers’ interest in locally-sourced products grows, so do the goods available at both Cowtown and Clearfork Farmers Markets. If you are so inspired, you can buy everything for a wonderful meal – from the produce to the meats to the seasonings to the after-dinner coffee – at either market and get the soap for washing your hands after the meal. You can even buy your dog some locally-sourced dog treats.
When we were researching this article, Madeworthy’s publisher, Victoria Wise, and I went hunting through both Cowtown and Clearfork markets. Needless to say, we found some of the freshest, most delicious foods available in Fort Worth. We also found some of the nicest people; farmers and producers who are passionate about the goods they produce to sell every Saturday. Many times, these are people who are embarking on second careers, lured away from corporate life by the siren song of being their own boss. Others are more established farmers who have kept their farms small, selling directly to their consumers instead of middlemen.
Regardless of their background, the farmers and producers who sell at both Cowtown and Clearfork are passionate about their products. They are eager to explain their growing practices and are happy to share a favorite recipe. I urge you to take your family to both Cowtown and Clearfork Farmers Markets. You will be supporting local people and will, possibly, create a new tradition for your family.
Latte Da Dairy
Using the milk from their herd of award-winning Nubian and LaMancha goats, Anne and Johnny Jones, along with cheesemaker Sue Hanley, create a variety of delicious goat cheeses which are not only available at Cowtown and Clearfork, but also at DFW restaurants, Central Market locations throughout the Metroplex, and Scardello Artisan Cheese shop in Dallas. Sue emphasized that the milk used comes directly from the Latte Da farm, not through a co-op, and that all the cheeses are made with vegetable rennet and are pasteurized.
Prairie Oasis Farm
Prairie Oasis Farm sells their pasture-raised pork and poultry at both Clearfork and Cowtown every Saturday. Founded in 1994 in Millsap, Texas, Prairie Oasis Farm’s animals are ethically raised in green pastures in the fresh air and sunshine. They are never given antibiotics or hormones, and the pastures they graze in are not treated with herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Needless to say, their fresh and cured meats contain no preservatives.
The Colletti family immigrated from Caltabellotta, Sicily, in the early 1900s to settle in Texas. However, they kept in touch with the family who remained behind in the family’s olive groves. Today, the Collettis import their own olives and olive oil from Sicily and sell them at Clearfork. The olives are brined in a simple salt brine which does not include lye, an ingredient used in curing many olives.
Malachi’s Farm of Rivertree Academy
Rivertree Academy is a private school located in the Como neighborhood, providing a Christian-based education to under-resourced students. Malachi’s Farm, located on what was a golf course, is developing into an outdoor laboratory for Rivertree students to learn and apply science, math, business principles, and real-world problem solving. They sell eggs and fruit at Clearfork and hope to develop the farm to produce vegetables, fish, and beef, as well.
When Dena Peterson Shaskan left her position as Executive Chef of Café Modern, she created Mockingbird Food Co., a boutique catering company headquartered in Southlake. Her husband, Trent, saw the brand-new catering kitchen and knew he had to start playing. Raised in San Francisco, Trent was inspired to create sourdough breads like he remembered eating as a child. “Creating the starter took forever,” says Stu Shaskan, Trent’s son, who sells his father’s breads, shrubs (drinking vinegars), and pickles at Cowtown and Clearfork. Three years of trial and error finally produced breads with a wonderfully crackly crust and a light, open crumb. Each Saturday, Icon features three flavors, as well a plain loaf at both Cowtown (“the mother branch”) and Clearfork.
Using the latest, innovative agricultural practices to grow beautiful, nutritious lettuces, micro-greens, and herbs, TexSelect Farms sells at Clearfork. They grow their non-GMO produce in greenhouses using sustainable, pesticide-free methods in Annetta South, Texas. The greenhouses allow TexSelect to grow year-round, meaning you can eat their delicious produce all year long. In addition, they are taking reservations for their weekly Harvest Boxes, a subscription service featuring TexSelect’s delicious farm-fresh greens and other nutritious foods.
Every time I go to the Fort Worth farmers markets or when visiting Seattle’s Ballard Farmers Market, I find new delicacies and create a dinner based solely on what I find in the market. It challenges my cooking skills, making me stretch my imagination to include all the ingredients that are awaiting, just at the perfect point of ripeness. It is locally-sourced and seasonal cooking at its finest.