Mansfield News

Customers swarm fresh produce

From fresh produce to vegan pastries to horseshoe welding art, everything appeared to be in demand Saturday as the Mansfield Farmers Market returned downtown for its 11th consecutive season.

The 12 vendors – 13 if you count market manager Rex Wenger, who sold honey from his information booth – were all smiles as the 1 p.m. close of business approached. They all reported brisk sales and expressed thanks for the mild, sunny weather and a steady stream of patrons who came out to do more than window shop.

Two produce sellers who came with their pickup beds loaded with watermelon, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and other garden favorites were left with table scraps at closing. A third sold out early and left.

B.G. Cadenhead, who said he sells at two farmers markets in Oak Cliff and one in Grand Prairie, was a newcomer to the Mansfield market and came away favorably impressed after selling “probably 98.3 percent” of his inventory.

Cadenhead said he or his brother or sister would be back at a booth for the rest of the season of the Mansfield market, which will run every Saturday through Oct. 18 at Smith and Oak streets.

Cadenhead, who works about 45 acres at his Cadenhead Farm in Angus, said he is a lifelong farmer and the son of one. So he loves to see new farmers markets pop up.

“It’s beneficial to farmers and to customers, too,” he said. “It’s just a way of life for me – to know what you’re eating.”

Wenger estimated the turnout for the five-hour event at 275 people, which he called a good start.

Bob Comeau, owner of Beantown Bracelet Company, measured success in other ways as well. One, he said, was the lack of “direct sellers,” who aggressively approach or call out to passersby.

“They’re too pushy,” he said. “It makes a difference because customers don’t want to see that.”

But Comeau wants to see more tradespeople at the farmers market, like a “bread maker or two” and a butcher. “We’d like it to be kind of a one-stop shop.”

Wenger said city officials want to see more food venders – “more than arts and crafts. And they want produce.” But drought has been an issue, he added. “We were lucky to have the three.”

Nelda Winsett did her part Saturday, bringing a pickup load of half-bushel boxes full of veggies and leaving with stacks of empty boxes. Winsett, who lives with husband Monty on 43 acres near Cleburne, has dispatched her family to work three area farmers markets this season – in Mansfield, Cleburne and Burleson.

“We do farmers markets only,” Winsett said, who works 2 1/2 of those acres to grow onions, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, okra and cucumbers. She buys produce from other area farmers to complete her inventory.

“You can’t get rich doing this,” she said. “But we love it, and we like being out and meeting people.”

At the Kendra Kreations tent, Kendra Myers and her husband, Shane Mitich, of Rendon tended to their array of home-canned jellies, jams and pickles. Myers said she learned the canning process seven to 10 years ago, following a lifelong interest she had developed as a child helping her mother and grandmother preserve their fruits and vegetables.

They had plenty of the jams and jellies left, but all the pickles sold.

“This has been a wonderful day,” Mitich said.