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Farmers Holding on to Farmers’ Markets in Texas

August 13, 1996

DALLAS (AP) _ Despite the drought, Texas produce continues to wind its way from the field to the Dallas Farmers’ Market.

``I have had real good years up to this one and I am not going to complain,″ said Virginia Sides of Canton, who said her family’s 560 acres of beans and peas are producing about half the crop of normal years.

But Mrs. Sides, who has sold at the Farmers’ Market for 32 years, said she’s not going to raise her prices because she needs to take care of the customers.

``I love it, I love my people,″ she said of shoppers who visit her four stalls.

However, prices charged by many of the venders at the Dallas market have creeping up. In fact, weather problems _ from droughts to storms _ throughout the country have put pressure on food prices.

``It’s horrible. This is why I have to pay $40 for these beans,″ shopper Kathy Roher of Dallas said of the drought. ``Beans are like double what I paid last year.″

Prices are not the bottom line for most people shopping at the market. ``Quality and freshness are very important,″ said Ms. Roher, who uses the beans for canning.

Still, the drought has reduced product selection.

Mary Anna Dennard of Dallas has shopped weekly at the market for 40 years, and she says there aren’t as many choices this year.

``I know we don’t have any West Texas peaches and that’s unfortunate,″ she said.

Gillespie County agriculturalist Bill Botard earlier reported that at least 90 percent of the state’s $4 million peach crop was destroyed by record high temperatures in February and frost and cold temperatures in March.

Still, even though there have been harvest hardships this year, the farmers at the market wouldn’t trade their long days.

``I got all winter to sleep,″ said Pat Sherlock, who for 23 years has worked with the Sides family.

Said farmer Jim Driskill, ``The farm deal is, you sure gotta like it ’cause you ain’t making money.″