Once a humble horse-and-wagon wholesale business, the Dallas Farmers Market has grown with the city and turned into a hub for farm-fresh vegetables, dairy and more. Today, it stands as a symbol of Dallas’ commitment to the health and nutrition of the people who call this city home.
As Dallas began to flourish in the late 19th century, farmers began to sell their produce in locations around the city from their wagons. Soon enough, the intersection of South Pearl Expressway and Cadiz Street became the hub of a thriving wholesale business—produce, chickens, pigs, eggs and goats were all sold to the people of North Texas. But as the city grew, so did the demand for farm-fresh produce and meat. So, in 1939, the site of the Dallas Farmers Market was expanded and the first Shed was established. By 1941, the site was officially sanctioned as a municipally owned and operated market.
“Mama” Ida Papert
In 1991, the Dallas Farmers Market Friends was formed by the driving force and tireless long-time supporter of the DFM, “Mama” Ida Papert. She began shopping at the DFM in 1953 convinced that preparing locally grown food was worth the effort.
Mama Ida was more than a shopper, she was a local matriarch. She could be found at the market every Saturday morning carrying her personalized bag that said, “Ida’s Gotta Have it”, filled to the brim with produce. She delivered preserves to each stall made from produce bought at the market. Ida took this passion for the farmers and enthusiasm for the market and created the Friends of the Farmers Market, a non-profit advocacy group that boasts more than 400 members. In 1993 she joined forces with the American Institute of Wine & Food to start the cooking classes enjoyed by enthusiastic foodies at the market.
Today, her legacy lives on through the dedication and hard work of the Dallas Farmers Market Friends. A street at the DFM has even been dedicated to her memory—Ida Papert Way. She is remembered as a modest woman, never taking credit for the contributions she made to attract shoppers and support farmers. Her efforts to grow and sustain the DFM will always be appreciated.