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The Shed Opens In Downtown Dallas With More Produce, Vendors And Kid Zones

Just in time for peak squash and okra season, the Dallas Farmers Market is debuting a major renovation this Labor Day weekend. What’s now called “The Shed” will house long-time sellers and new vendors, all part of on-going 65 million dollar transformation on the East Side of downtown.

Stephenia Ottinger drives more than an hour down from Gainesville to this market to buy fruit and vegetables for a lot of people.  

“We don’t have those options up there,” she said. “So we come down, we pull our money together, do a big buy, go home, separate it, and 12 families are fed for two weeks.”

Local produce, seasonal items, she says, are just better.  

“It’s just fresh, we love it,” Ottinger said.

For nine months, she’s witnessed the make-over of this East Side neighborhood, which when finished in two years, will have 7 stories of residential units above the market, kid zones,  a beer garden, new restaurants and artisan shops.

“It’s going to be a different downtown. I think it’s going to be safer, more open, more businesses downtown.”

Farmers and vendors are moving into new spots Thursday night, across from the old lot, says Travis Morgan, director of operations at the Dallas Farmers Market.

“What’s neat about the new shed for the farmers is we have misters now," he said. “We also have really large fans installed. And in the winter, we’re going to have heaters, which is a first for out here. That should really help with the freeze days.”

At the end of the shed, there’s also a music stage. Morgan says visitors will see many new farmers, and much more produce.

“Any produce that you see here,” he said. “You’re going to see a sign that says conventional, chemical free, or organic. What the product is, price per pound, or basket, in the city and state it came from.”

The Rubios have been selling Parker County peaches, Jacksonville plums and other produce for at least three generations.

“Grandma worked this place,” Benito Rubio said. “My dad, and now me.”

He says the revamp of the sheds, the addition of the living spaces, and doubling parking to about 700 spots will attract more families, younger people, and new customers.  

“It’s 2014,” he said. “We need to catch up with the times. [The Farmers] Markets outdated. Prices are outdated. Profits are outdated. We’re going to get a new start and a new beginning.”