Coppell Farmers Market hosts a variety of producers each Saturday morning. This doesn’t happen by accident. Vendors go through a process to be admitted to the market line up for a booth assignment, and ongoing review and annual renewal process to continue to come.
Most vendors report they heard about this market by word of mouth from other vendors or visitors to the market. They then inquire about the online application process and fill out and submit an application found on the market website. The market chairman reviews the application for completeness, requests more information if needed, and then passes it along to the vendor subcommittee electronically or at a meeting.
The application is compared to the market mission statement “To form a relationship with local growers/producers in order to provide fresh, seasonal produce and agricultural products for our community while fostering a sense of place in Old Town Coppell.”
Questions to be clearly answered by the applicant or committee include:
- Who is the grower or producer? How large is the operation?
- Is this grown/ produced within 150 miles of Coppell? If not, can it be acquired within that radius?
- Is this product sold in stores nearby? Or is it unique to the market in our town?
- Will this product bring diversity to the market? How many vendors does the market have with a similar product? The goal is to provide diversity and choices to the customers and also to ensure that sales for vendors aren’t diluted by an overabundance of the same type product. For instance, the market presently has two beef, two pork, two chicken, and two lamb producers from the three ranches represented. Several vendors are approved for eggs because eggs are a high demand item and availability fluctuates with the seasons and weather extremes.
- How is the produce grown? Where are the animals raised and finished out? What are they fed? All animal products at this market are hormone and antibiotic free whether certified organic or not. All are raised in outdoor pastures or have some free ranges on open ground.
- Are sustainable practices followed? Where are the ingredients purchased? Are farmers market or Texas ingredients used?
If a product requires refrigeration or freezing, a City of Coppell Health application and fee must also be paid. If a food product is produced, a USDA approved kitchen must be used, unless the items fall under the Cottage Food Law. Once an applicant is approved for selling at the market, at least two committee members volunteer to visit the production or farming site to get better acquainted with the producer, make that personal connection, and maintain the market’s integrity. Vendors who have been at the market across years are revisited periodically to continue this relationship.
The visits are friendly and informative with committee members filling out a form and taking pictures and invariably reporting an increased appreciation for the hard work of the farmers, the pride all producers have in their products, and the willingness to share how they acquire their expertise and perfect their product, their triumphs and woes in bringing products they are proud to sell.