Dissolving Rumors About J.T. Lemley’s Departure from the Dallas Farmers Market

The farmer has been a fixture at the market for more than 40 years.

J.T. Lemley.
J.T. Lemley.

For weeks, rumors about J.T. Lemley of Lemley’s Produce and Plant Farm have been swirling around Dallas food circles. Word on the street is this will be his final season selling his wonderful fruits and vegetables at the Dallas Farmers Market.

I stopped by Lemley’s kiosk to chat with him and find out if there’s any truth to the rumors. “I am so glad you came by to see me,” the 67-year-old said, “this has been on my mind.” Turns out the farmer, who’s been a fixture at the market for more than 40 years, thought he wouldn’t be able to return next year. “I sat right there,” he said while pointing to a stool at the corner of his booth, “and told everybody that I wouldn’t be coming back next year.” (Well, that explains the source of the rumors.)

Lemley is having a difficult time transporting his goods up from Canton, Texas each week. “I’ve been telling everybody that there’s no way [I can come back next year], but I think I found a way. The problem is getting the produce to the market.” He relies on a team of employees to help him, and as long as they’re able to bring shipments of tomatoes, squash, and peaches to Dallas (with or without him), then it will be business as usual at the Dallas Farmers Market.

“Customer input made me make the decision to try everything I can to come back,” he explained. We were interrupted three times during our conversation by market-goers, eager to shake Lemley’s hand and convey to him how much they love his produce. “I still love to come on the weekends and do what I’m doing now. I got a family on the farm and I got a family here…. I’ll try my best to get back here in no time. On the other hand, I still have a nice store [in Canton].”

Lemley’s optimism is admirable. Here’s hoping his juicy tomatoes will be available at the Dallas Farmers Market next summer.

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Comments

  • shrubstex

    The Destruction of the Dallas Farmers Market is almost complete. There is almost no place for a farmer who actually makes a living selling produce to have enough space to park his vehicles that he has to have to set up anew every weekend during growing season. (That also means no sales during the week. A member of the Esperanza Farms team told me at the Oak Lawn Farmers Market that this year they were denied booth space because the Dallas Farmers Market had enough vegetables and wanted more space available for the Artisan Vendors. All those ”Artisan”s have taken up space of farmers that now sell at the local church and other green markets that have sprung up in the vacuum created by the ”new” farmers market. I have many friends who made only 2 trips this summer to the Dallas Farmers Market this year, the first one and the last one.