The Dallas Farmers Market has engaged an organization called GROW North Texas to serve as its liaison with farmers. The nonprofit's manager has been called a "passionate activist" for a just and sustainable local food system.
Founded in 2012, GROW North Texas is led by executive director Susie Marshall, who is also president of Dallas Farmers Market Friends, the longtime support group that promotes community awareness and raises funds for the market via classes and events, such as the annual Hoedown, which takes place every November.
Marshall is also president of the board of the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association and founder of the Gleaning Network, which collects unwanted vegetables and fruits from post-harvest fields and orchards.
The mission of GROW North Texas is "to connect North Texans to food, farms and community in order to create a sustainable, secure regional food system that enriches the land, encourages economic opportunity through food and agriculture, and supports equitable access to healthy, nutritious food for all."
"The mission of GROW North Texas is right in line with ours," said managing partner Brian Bergersen in a release.
Its responsibilities at the market will include supervision and facilitation of communication and support for the farmers who sell in the market; recruiting new farmers; verification of registered farms and their crops; encouraging feedback and mutual education; coordination of crop diversity and planting; market operations for setting rates and maintaining market standards for sales and customer relations; enforcing rules, regulations and produce standards; health code compliance; and optimizing the vendor mix in Shed 1 as the growing seasons change.
GROW North Texas will also work with management to develop an information booth in Shed 1, which will provide information about the market, the farmers and produce availability.
Now under construction, Shed 1 is scheduled to reopen in June, primarily for farmers but with some "farmers' representatives" and possibly other local merchants, depending upon seasonal availability. Farmers are slated to get a whole new round of amenities, including heaters, fans, misters, sinks for washing produce, larger stalls to accommodate more storage and a fresh coat of paint.
There are also plans to build a stage at the east end of the shed for live music on the weekends. Vehicular traffic will no longer be allowed; on the upside, the new Shed 1 will accommodate more than double the number of farmers.