They met at a Flock of Seagulls concert and have been friends ever since. They are not alike in every way: Sarah Perry is a gardener, urban chicken farmer and mother of three. Mary Norvell is an “immature gardener compared to Sarah,” she says, and a graphic designer. But they work well together. So when Perry set her sights on starting a local farmers market, Norvell said, “I’m in.” A local shop owner let them use his lot, and the women have been bringing local farmers and craftspeople together twice monthly for more than a year now. Though the market is seasonal, it doesn’t stop when the temps drop. In fact, it will run right through the holidays.
How did this market get going?
MN: Bruce Bagelman, the Green Spot owner, and Sarah were discussing the idea; he agreed to let us have it in the parking lot …
SP: …which is a big deal. To let us just come in and take over his parking lot. We were impressed that he wanted to participate. We knew the right mentality was here, that people in this neighborhood support local farmers markets, and that people here would embrace it.
Were you surprised about how quickly it gained popularity?
SP: Partly, especially considering we don’t really advertise and that it is all word of mouth, but like we said, we expected it to be well-received. We’ve been happy with the response. The vendors are happy. There is a community here, and it is nice to see the market being part of that community.
It’s probably been a lot of work. Has it been tough?
MN: It is not really tough. It is time consuming, and we have a lot of vendors who want to be a part of the market and in some areas, we have to pick and choose. The market is held the second and fouth Saturday of every month. The first one of the month is crafts and food, and the second is just food.
Why might a vendor be turned away?
SP: We have to strike a balance. There are a lot of bakers and jewelry makers, for example; we can’t have too much of one thing. One thing we are always looking out for, though, is good produce. Sometimes the produce is sold out by 10 a.m. Eggs, too. So those types of things are a priority when it comes to striking that balance. The farmers need to be local, generally that means within 150 miles of Dallas. And all the crafts are handmade.
What types of things do you have planned for the fall season?
MN: We have a pie-baking contest planned for Nov. 13, and a big holiday market planned for December (visit whiterocklocalmarket.com for dates).
What types of things can we expect to see at one of these big markets?
SP: Handmade natural body products, ceramics, knitters, clothing, furniture — Tom O’Kelly is a very popular furniture vendor. There’s a guy who sells rain barrels, and a guy who refurbishes and sells old bicycles, to name a few. Then of course there is food — dairy, meat, produce, tamales, pasta, preserves and local honey.
Have you learned anything outstanding so far from your experience with the White Rock Local Market?
MN: We have been to visit some of the farmers; we do some visiting during the off-season in January and February. We went out to Windy Hill farm, for example, and the animals, the pigs, they live on this beautiful land. Those pigs have it made. It is just so cool to see.
SP: I love the feeling of bringing food home to my own family from the market. You get the organic, all-natural food, and it’s a good feeling to bring it all home and to know that your money went directly to the farmers. I also love watching the vendors — a diverse group of people — interact with one another. They give one another products, barter, and help each other out — it’s this great sense of community. That’s my favorite thing.