As the official start of spring nears, it's the season for shopping at area farmers markets. The city of Weatherford has had one for decades, and now there is a relatively new one down the road in Aledo.
The Weatherford Farmers Market, at 217 Fort Worth Highway, just east of downtown, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"The Hutton family is currently leasing the farmers market from the city of Weatherford and have been for many years. Because of that, the city requires the market to be open year-round," market manager Heather Morgan said. "The winter months are definitely hard, because local produce is not available."
The Aledo Farmers Market was set to open Monday, March 19, and will remain open through November. Hours are 3-6 p.m. each Monday, and it is located in the Aledo Community Center parking lot, 104 Robinson Court.
"The market is based on the growing season, and most of our vendors sell fresh-from-the-farm vegetables, herbs, eggs, etc.," Toni Fisher, Aledo community event planner, said in an email. "Typically, December, January and February prove to be the coldest months."
Fisher said the Monday hours were chosen specifically to accommodate vendors who participate in weekend markets.
"Monday afternoon seemed to work best for everyone. Plus, it is a day that is not typical of being open for a farmers market," she said. "Those times work well for our community as it is during our highest-traffic time of the day while people are picking up students from school, taking them to after-school activities and coming home from work."
The Aledo market began in late 2016, joining other nearby markets, such as Cowtown Farmers Market on the traffic circle on Southwest Boulevard in Fort Worth (8 a.m.-noon Saturdays) and the Ridgmar Farmers Market (open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-7 or 8 p.m., depending on season, and totally enclosed).
"There had been an individual that would set up by the Aledo Diner on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for a few years, but then when the drought came through in 2015-16 he no longer had enough crops to continue his service," Fisher said. "So, in 2016 the Aledo Economic Development Corp. worked with Cold Springs Farm to set up on Elm Street next to the Church at the Crossing."
Fisher said the Aledo corporation had been considering a farmers market for years, and the time was right in 2016.
Each market has its specialties, and, of course, local produce is always most popular when it is in season, typically May through September. Weatherford, being year-round, also features pumpkins, flowers, herbs, plants,and even Christmas trees. Aledo specializes in farm-to-table products, along with items such as fresh churned butter, and goat soaps and lotions.
Also, only farm and garden products that are raised and produced within a 150-mile radius of Aledo are allowed.
"We do not allow for commercially produced items to be for sale," Fisher said.
Folks love to come for the eggs, Fisher said. "We have had customers come from as far away as Bedford to get the fresh hen and duck eggs," she said. "They said they could not find them at any other markets."
The Huttons at the Weatherford market are also known for something special. "If you’re familiar with the Hutton family, they are known for growing Parker County peaches," Morgan said. "The Huttons have been in this business for over 40-plus years and have made relationships with many local and Texas farmers. They strive to have local produce provided for their customers."
While other markets are in areas with generally heavy traffic, the Aledo market has the luxury of a nearby pavilion and walking trail. Also, many of the same vendors will set up at city events, such as First Friday, Aledo Fest and Christmas Tyme in Aledo, helping them gain exposure, as the market is still new.
Fisher said there has been talk of making a few adjustments to the Aledo market, but they like maintaining the uniqueness of being on a Monday. "There has been discussion to possibly extend the hours of the market to allow for people returning to Aledo that may work from 8-5 and do not get into town before the market closes," she said. "As the market’s awareness and repeat-customer base grows, we hope to increase our community’s availability to farm-to-market products with more vendors, more hours, and a more visual location."