After being closed for renovation since last spring, the structure known as Shed 1 at the Dallas Farmers Market is scheduled to reopen the end of the month as its new, larger, better self. And its name will be streamlined to just The Shed for its new incarnation as the home of local produce and meats. The Shed has also been configured to allow stage space on the east end for live music, cooking classes and demonstrations on the weekends.
Drive-through traffic and parking has been eliminated to allow more space for local producers and sellers, according to the principals spearheading the public/private redevelopment of the city's 70-year old market. Even though local growers have been using the site to sell their goods for well over 100 years, the market was officially sanctioned in 1941, and has had a somewhat bumpy ride over the past few decades.
But, with the recent surge of popularity in farmers markets nationwide, and particularly in Texas, interest in the local fresh food venue brought about a new commitment to keep the historic market open. A sale was completed last year, paving the way for a comprehensive redevelopment plan that spells an ambitious future for the market as a gathering place for local "foodies" as well as a tourist attraction and an entertainment center/tourist destination.
The new "Shed" will open August 29. Meanwhile, sellers will continue to operate out of Shed 3. But on August 1, Shed 2 closed for its renovation. It is slated to reopen in March of 2015 as "The Market," with four restaurants featuring both interior and patio dining space. Mudhen, an adjacent free-standing venture and another bird-themed restaurant by Dallas-Fort Worth dining legend Shannon Wynne is scheduled to open at the same time. The restaurant and craft beer garden will feature the freshest and best produce available from the market's vendors, according to Wynne.
The area around the Dallas Farmers Market has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in recent months, with new condos and commercial spaces under development and nearing completion. City officials and private developers hope that the redevelopment of the market area will spur further growth, and encourage local and tourist traffic to the area, much in the same way that Seattle's Pike Place Market has become an iconic part of that city's urban scene.
Another restaurant, the Green Door Public House, also recently opened in a renovated building near the Dallas market, and also has fresh produce and grass-fed beef on its menu. It occupies the former Liberty Bank building space, which reportedly housed four different speakeasies during its somewhat shady past.
So, if you're out and about during the next few weeks, you might want to stop by the historic market site and get a feel for the changes that are in store. Or, just mark your calendars for Labor Day weekend and make a point to check it out then. If you can't make it to the great granddaddy of local markets on a regular basis, however, chances are good that wherever you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, you will find a local farmers market not too far distant. Texas ranks third in the nation, behind only Louisiana and Tennessee, in the number of new markets for the year. The state chalked up a 6.6% increase in the number of local, fresh markets for the year.