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Dallas-Fort Worth’s Growth Spurt Forges On

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The origin of the city name Dallas can’t be traced to a single person (unlike Fort Worth, which was named for William J. Worth, a U.S. general), though the Texas State Historical Society notes three potential candidates: George Mifflin Dallas, U.S. vice president from 1845 to 1849; his brother, Commodore Alexander J. Dallas in the U.S. Navy; and John Dallas, a settler in the region.

The area’s settlers did agree on one thing—that future economic growth was tied to transportation. Although early efforts to establish a port on the nearby Trinity River didn’t work out, business operators were able to attract rail tycoons. The Houston and Texas Central rail line was up and running in 1872 and the Texas and Pacific line the following year. As predicted, the railroads sparked a bevy of commercial growth.

Dallas and Fort Worth were formerly two distinct cities, but urban sprawl and the Trinity Railway Express have connected them. Still, the two could hardly be more different. The Dallas metropolitan area is a leading banking, financial, and trade center for the Southwest and a major transportation hub. Fort Worth’s nickname is Cowtown, which sums up its Wild West persona well.

Agricultural success in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) locale, often referred to as the Metroplex, comes from its moderate climate, right amount of rainfall, fertile Blackland Prairie soil, and vast population (7.5 million).

Of course, the weather doesn’t always stay constant or play nice, but the volatile weather has been mostly good. Juan Ibarra, CEO and president of Marengo Foods Company, LLC, BB #:260540 in Dallas, confirms it: “We didn’t have any major or significant weather issues in our production areas this past season.”

Shoppers and local chefs looking for the freshest farm-to-table produce have their best chance at one of the local farmers markets, from a roadside stand, or from the farms themselves.

State-sponsored venues include The Shed, an open-air area of the Dallas Farmers Market and the nonprofit community Good Local Markets. All are open seasonally one, two, or more days a week.

For its part, Fort Worth Fort Worth has its Cowtown Farmers Market, which opens twice weekly year-round.

Farmers have taken to social media to announce when it’s time for pick-your-own field-fresh produce, and they’re being overwhelmed by the response. One even considered hiring police for crowd control.

Gary Hutton, who owns Hutton Peach Farm BB #:319304 in Weatherford, TX, supplies all the peaches for the Parker County Peach Festival, which takes place in July. He told the Weatherford Democrat, a local newspaper, that he had a good crop this past year with the right amount of rain. The ripe fruit turned out larger than normal. Hutton grows five varieties of peaches—Red Globe, Bounty, Fire Prince, Flame Prince, and August Prince.

Back to transportation, Dallas-Fort Worth still has its advantages.

Lex Miles, co-owner of Dallas Direct Distributing, LLC, BB #:205513 had no concerns when it comes to transportation. “Fuel costs are stable now,” Miles says. “There were times when trucks were hard to find, but not now—I have to beat them off with a stick,” he jokes.

Larry Ma of Pacific Plus International, Inc. BB #:206618 in Dallas feels the same. He says he has so many suppliers that if one fails him, he always has a backup. “We supply the same customers over and over again,” he says. “Dallas is the last place you’ll see something different.”

This is a multi-part feature adapted from the Texas Supplement with the March/April 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.