Fort Worth

At North Texas farmers markets, the pros and cons of abundant rainfall

John Doak is a longtime Montague County peach grower who sells his produce at Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth.
John Doak is a longtime Montague County peach grower who sells his produce at Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

At M and M Farms, just outside Mineral Wells, heavy rains have caused delays in the planting of tomatoes and other crops.

In Azle, the cattle at Ash Creek Farms have plenty of green grass to munch, but the chickens are searching for dry ground.

Near Weatherford, B&G Gardens lost plums and apricots to rot but harvested nearly 10,500 pounds of asparagus, a solid season.

A rainy spring has provided mixed results for area farmers, who are filling stalls at farmers markets across Tarrant County to sell blackberries, greens, corn and potatoes. Two symbols of summer, peaches and tomatoes, are beginning to trickle in.

“I hate to complain about rain because it’s sure easier to grow with it than without it,” said Raymond Miller, who owns M and M Farms, which sells its produce at Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth. “But sometimes we would love a little more moderation.”

It rained 6.25 inches in May and 2.50 inches since June 1. Since January, it’s rained 19.26 inches, which is 1.86 above normal.

That rain has helped grow heirloom and hybrid tomatoes at Baugh Farms in Wills Point, a small town in East Texas. Owner Don Baugh is now selling his produce at the newly opened Clearfork Farmers Market every Saturday at the Trailhead in Fort Worth, in his addition to several markets around Dallas.

Baugh Farms grows a long list of heirloom tomatoes, such as Mortgage Lifters and Cherokee Purples, which Baugh said many large-scale farmers quit growing because of their limited shelf life and somewhat gnarled appearance.

“Our tomatoes are in good shape, thanks to the rain,” he said. “If you buy a tomato off my table, it might be ugly, scarred and leaking. But when you get it home and cut into it, you won’t care. The flavor is that good.”

Rain also has meant more weeds at M and M Farms, where farmers have been working long hours to control them, Miller said. Mud-soaked land has prevented equipment from working the fields, so farmers have been forced to plant by hand, a much slower process.

“Everything is just a little slower this year, taking a little more time,” he said.

For B&G Gardens, the rain has given a boost to blackberries, green beans, beets and carrots. The first crop of freestone peaches should be on its way within the next two weeks to Cowtown Farmers Market, said Ben Walker, co-owner of B&G Gardens.

“Our apricots and plums took a hit, but other crops are doing fine,” Walker said. “You just have to watch out for rot and disease when it’s this wet.”

In past drier years, Ash Creek Farms in Azle purchased outside hay to supplement its grass for the cattle to graze. Not this year. The chickens, however, spend their days searching for patches of dry grass.

“If we want grass-fed beef, we need healthy, green pastures, and that’s what we have,” owner Mary Nelson said. “Only the chickens aren’t crazy about all this wet weather.”

Sarah Bahari: 817-390-7056, @sarahbfw

Sampling of local farmers markets

Cowtown Farmers Market

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Location: Weatherford Traffic Circle, 3821 Southwest Blvd. in Fort Worth

The Clearfork Farmers Market

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays
  • Location: Trailhead at Clearfork, 4801 Edwards Ranch Road in Fort Worth

West 7th Farmers Market

  • Hours: 4-7 p.m. Thursdays
  • Location: 2913 Crockett St.

Keller Farmers Market

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays
  • Location: Keller Town Hall, 1100 Bear Creek Parkway

Grapevine Farmers Market

  • Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays
  • Location: 520 South Main St. in Grapevine

Aledo Farmers Market

  • Hours: 3-6 p.m. Mondays
  • Location: Corner of Elm Street and Farm Road 1187