Arlington Farmer’s Market: City’s New Meeting Place

Back when the city was in the grips of one of the worst droughts on record, Arlington Water Utilities wanted to help residents find solutions to maintain landscapes impacted by such dry conditions.

So they turned to the Downtown Arlington Farmer’s Market to put on a Smart Yard Symposium.

It’s exactly the kind of event the downtown market founder Joe Bruner had been wanting to stage since first starting this market three years ago.

Bruner has always envisioned the market as a kind of gathering spot for community endeavors but it wasn’t until the symposium drew a standing room only crowd, filling up the meeting room adjacent to the market’s building at 215 Front Street, that he knew a demand was certainly there.

As area farmer’s markets grapple with lower than usual  attendance following the drought many are changing the way they appeal to local customers, the Downtown Farmer’s Market included.

“We want this to be a gathering place for information, for discussion and for socialization, along with the products we offer here,” said Bruner. “This helps everyone. We don’t advertise outside a few promotional items. Mostly it’s word of mouth. That’s what is going to give us a consistent return of customers we need. It’s just a matter of spreading the word to let people know that we’re here.”

Little else has changed at the Downtown Arlington Farmer’s Market,  which is still opened for customers on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 8 a.m. and offering a variety of fresh produce, breads, jams, honey, crafts, arts and many other products.

“We still see this as a hidden gem that people need to know about,” said Lindy Suze, whose Unhinged Homestead sells organic home goods at the market. “The idea of it becoming bigger is great and we think that will happen as more people find out about the variety of items you can get here. Homemade items from Texas merchants. You can’t beat that.”

Products aside, Bruner would like to transform the lot of land right next to the building into a community garden similar to the one on the UTA campus. He can also envision the space being used for receptions and weddings and other social gatherings under a shaded gazebo.

On Saturday May 19, beginning at 9 a.m., the Downtown Arlington Farmer’s Market along with the City of Arlington will offer a class on How to Make a Rain Barrel for those who want to collect and store rain water runoff. Collected water can then be used in a variety of ways for environmentally sound reasons, from watering gardens to flushing toilets.

“What we’re doing is more than just selling products,” Bruner said. “I grew up with a garden. The planning of a seed and covering it and watering it and cultivating it and watching grow and flourish, that’s a part of life we should all experience.”

By Ken Perkins