North Texas Daily

Denton Community Market concludes 12th year of sustainable sales

Denton Community Market concludes 12th year of sustainable sales

Denton Community Market concludes 12th year of sustainable sales
November 29
18:36 2021

Every Saturday morning from April through November, patrons and vendors can be found at the Denton Community Market, held at the corner of South Carroll Boulevard and West Mulberry Street.

The market’s 12th season came to a close this weekend on Small Business Saturday, a nationwide holiday promoting small and local businesses. Market-goers were greeted by Santa Claus, Christmas carolers and 70 vendors to help usher in the holiday season.

The Denton Community Market got its start in 2008 when Denton residents showed interest in having a local market. Residents assembled and took to city hall meetings, and by 2010, the first market was born with 10 vendors at the corner of Sycamore Street and Carroll Boulevard.

The original market was so popular that in 2011, it was held weekly and relocated to the green area it is today, said Vicki Oppenheim, Denton Community Market co-founder and former executive director.

“The real idea was to create a community space that had locally-produced items from the producers themselves,” Oppenheim said.

The market started off being run exclusively by volunteers, including Oppenheim, until 2014 when it became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, meaning it could gain outside and governmental funding. It received a $77,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and began accepting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Texas WIC.

As the market grew, more vendors began coming to the market, reaching a peak of 100 weekly vendors in 2019. However, amid COVID-19, the 2020 season was delayed, with staff being let go and fewer vendors and patrons attending each week.

Andi Torres, who began working for the market in 2019, was among the employees let go when the pandemic hit, but was rehired as a booth manager and market operations coordinator in July 2020, when the market was permitted to open as an outdoor grocery space with only farm vendors.

“The market started with only 10 vendors,” Torres said. “Today we’re at 70, but we’ve had up to 125 vendors which is amazing.”

An integral part of the market is having vendors who produce their products sustainably. The Denton Community Market has a certified farmer program to ensure sold produce meets market standard, and market staff members visit the farms to screen for proper, sustainable farming practices.

Matthew Gorham, market vendor and owner of Tree Folk Farm, has taken part in the market for eight years with his wife Andrea.

“They’re basically coming out to make sure you’re not using anything you shouldn’t, like synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, so everybody that sells at this market is organic,” Gorham said. “Not necessarily certified organic, but they grow sustainably.”

Monique Segovia, Florida native and Brown Thumb owner, moved to Denton in 2020 and began selling plants and homemade planters at the market to meet new people and help her anxiety.

“I moved here from Florida during COVID, and [the market] was really my only socialization,” Segovia said. “At first I was really sad, so I thought, ‘I need to get out and do something more,’ and the fact that everyone accepted me into their market has been a blessing personally and for the business.”

Environmental science freshman Michaela Milligan said she learned about the market through a friend who discovered it during university orientation. Since then, Milligan and her friends visit the market almost weekly.

“I don’t have a lot of money to spend because I’m in college, but talking to people and seeing everyone come together is honestly my favorite part of the market,” Milligan said.

As the Denton Community Market has grown over the years, it has turned into a community gathering space with local music artists performing weekly and festivals, Oppenheim said.

“The market has evolved from this very community-based, grassroots effort to become a real institution in the city of Denton, so I’m glad to see the market still continuing,” Oppenheim said.

Featured Image: The top of the courthouse is seen from Denton Community Market on Nov. 27, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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