The Coppell Farmers Market strives to provide a farm direct market for farmers, growers, and producers. The vendor approval committee has a criterion for the selection of vendors favoring sustainable farming/ranching, direct from farm sales, farm visitation access, and face-to-face selling by producers. Customers are encouraged to get to know the vendors and ask questions about sustainable practices, sources, and processes.
Stacy and her husband, Jerry, have been farming together for some 25 years. Actually, Jerry has farmed his whole life, but Stacy joined in when they got married. They live in Santo, TX, about 75 miles west of Coppell, with their two daughters ages 10 and 6 years old. The Finleys live on about 15 acres but lease other land to farm on, including a peach orchard. Hummm, don't we look forward to those peaches! A hard worker and open to new things, Stacy has started raising mushrooms. They are a whole new ballgame for her, but we are reaping the benefits of her experimentation! If the name Finley sounds familiar, it's because Jerry's uncle is Jack Finley, another popular Coppell Farmers' Market vendor.
Jack has farmed out of Lipan, TX for about 35 years. That's not far from Santo, between Mineral Wells and Stephenville. He and his wife, Betty, have one son, Kevin, whom many of you know from the Market. You might also recognize another regular helper, Jay Carpenter, of Coppell. Jack owns about 78 acres, but leases other acreage here and there for his watermelon and cantaloupe, and so he can rotate crops. If you ever wonder how to cook a certain vegetable, Jack and Kevin can give you instructions. They'll also help you pick out the prettiest produce. Ever notice that Jack cuts out of the market once dove season opens? Hunting and fishing is a great reward for a summer of hard work.
Keith first took up farming as a hobby about 20 years ago, but it has grown into the best way for his children to finance their college educations. It was hard for the kids to get summer jobs when sports teams wanted them to play all summer, too. So farming allowed the kids to work on their own time and still play sports. Keith and his wife, Kassandra, have three children, but his best friend's three children also work the farm and produce stands. The Copp's live in Ponder, about 35 miles north of Coppell, with about 35 acres cultivated. In winter the kids are far flung at Lubbock Christian, UNT and Texas A&M, but growing season fits in well with summer "vacation" so we look forward to seeing them in Coppell.
Acting as advisor to son and daughter-in-law Jay and Laurie Waligora, Pat instigated the establishment of Hiram Farms. So four years ago they set out to grow organic (not certified) gourmet greens, none of which are lettuce. The greens are intended to be mixed with lettuce or eaten as is. They now have three greenhouses on one acre of land in the community of Hiram, near Wills Point. The greenhouses allow them to grow the greens all year 'round except during the hottest part of the summer. As one way of keeping bugs away organically, the greenhouses are screened in. Pat, a great-grandmother who is retired from the medical field, enjoys having her granddaughter help her in Coppell at the market.
Admitting that they are both technical geeks, Steve and Cat wanted to grow their own produce, first because of health reasons and second, to start a sideline business that could eventually become full time. They played with growing tomatoes and herbs hydroponically, then went on to experiment with other plants. Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants in nutrient solution rather than in soil. According to the Elliotts, plants don't have to break down the nutrients before use because the nutrients are readily available to them. Roots hit the nutrients directly as opposed to slow take up through the soil. Plants take up exactly what they need and quickly grow quite large in this stress-free environment. This growing method allows lettuce to be available all year long. The Elliots hope to retire raising hydroponic crops and coming to our farmers market is the first step.
Mike has grown fruit trees for 15 years, but now that he is retired from Lucent Technologies (formerly AT&T), he takes pleasure in devoting more time to his hobby. On his 1.5 acres in Forney, he grows pears, plums, apricots, peaches, apples, grapes and some vegetables. He and his wife, Pat, enjoy square dancing several times a month, in their club and around the Metroplex. It's a good thing for us that the market is in the morning and not during dance time!
Spending time in California introduced the Hutchins to the value of healthy eating. So after the Naval Academy and serving on destroyers, Robert bought 300 acres near his hometown of Greenville to raise healthy food for his family while he worked in the defense industry. However, the mission of supplying pastured pork, beef, chicken and lamb to his family grew to a full-time venture. Since the 1980s, he has perfected his methods of raising natural, chemical-free, antibiotic-free animals, adjusting to the Texas heat and working to change the traditional Texas agricultural environment. The help of his wife, Nancy, and their 8 children still at home is essential to the operation of the ranch. Katherine and Samuel are in charge of the Coppell sales, a welcome sight at the market each week.
Taylor moved from New Mexico to Denison to partner in the family business of raising natural meats. He works hard, taking care of the pastured pigs, chickens and cows and marketing the products in the DFW area. The animals are raised in their natural environments and without antibiotics or chemicals. Eggs he brings to market are from free-range chickens as well. This lifestyle is good for Taylor right now, much to the benefit of the market.
Farmer Chris Buckalew from Weathertop Farm joins the market with his vegetable starter plants and produce grown naturally with no artificial fertilizers, artificial pesticides, or herbicides. Chris uses soil blocks and also sells them at the market by order. Click here more more information about soil blocks. During the fall, Chris is a professor at California Polytechic State University. He anticipates a good growing season with a variety of produce for the market customers. The Coppell Farmers Market is his preference for selling what he grows on his farm in Forestburg, TX.
Sammy’s land has been in the family since 1889, but he and Robby named it Dead End Farm because when you get to their house, you have to turn around. Over the years, Sammy’s family added to the original 200 acres in Montague County so this fourth generation farmer, along with his sister, now owns 850 contiguous acres. His family used to grow feed crops, but in 1985 he happily switched to produce farming. Now the Mitchells rotate crops on about 17 acres, actually working 3 – 4 acres at a time, plus planting fields for the deer and other critters, keeping them away from market crops. The Mitchells use no hired help, but their kids and grand-kids regularly lend a hand on the farm and at the markets. We’ll see enthusiastic Mitchell at the Coppell Farmers Market – he’s been going to markets since he was in a bouncer. And that makes him a sixth generation farmer!