Farmers’ Market vendors react to town center development takeover

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After an increase in rent prices, the downtown Wichita Falls development has announced plans to take over the Farmers Market.

The Farmers’ Market was packed with vendors and people looking for fresh produce on Saturday, July 23, just a day after Downtown Development announced it was taking over the Farmers’ Market after a tense battle with the Farmers Market Association.

“The lease we previously offered to the Farmers Market Association, not individual vendors, has been withdrawn, meaning we will only be dealing with individual vendors from now on,” the Downtown Development president said. Board, Becky Raeke.

This decision left a rotten taste with some sellers.

“I was not very happy to learn that Downtown Development was encroaching on the Farmers Market Association,” said Joey Diaz of the salsa guy said.

“If you were kicked out of your apartment or your house, you would actually have to find another place to live,” said Carol Castro of Ceramic Carol Castro said. “Same here, we are evicted, so we have to find another place to live.”

For Joey Diaz, running his business has been fun and seeing his regulars brings him joy, but that is now overshadowed by future market plans.

“The downtown development wants their piece of the pie, but they didn’t want anything to do with us before; why are they doing it now? Diaz said. “It’s because we made money. We have made it a profitable business.

Carol Castro said the price increase would reduce her income.

“Under their leadership, prices will go up,” Castro said. “They will pay $20 for farmers and $25 for artists. I calculated my sales and what they cost me; over a year, it’s going to cost me $660 more under their management.

Ruthie Turnbo is a regular salesperson with Smarty Plants Medicinal Herb Farm. She said she thinks the Farmers Market Association has outgrown the facility and wants to serve other parts of the community.

“With the population of Wichita Falls surpassing 100,000, that’s okay because it supports our entire community,” Turnbo said.

Castro and Diaz said they would support the Farmers Market Association through and through.

“I’m part of the Wichita Falls Market Association, a vendor and member, and I’m going to stay strong, and we’re going to get this thing done — probably somewhere else for a while,” Castro said.

“I’m going to support the Farmers Market Association,” Diaz said. “They’ve been good to us, and they’re the reason he grew up. They really look to us as suppliers and understand what we need and what kind of support we need here. They are really looking at us instead of wondering how much money they can get from us.

David H. Henry