By Penny Ruekberg

When you live in the heart of the city, it’s not easy to find produce that comes straight from the farm. Joining a produce co-op ensures a greener and more convenient way for you and your family to get a regular supply of fruits and vegetables without driving to the countryside to pick them. As research uncovers a myriad of benefits locally sourced food can offer to people and to the planet, the amount of food co-ops is growing. And right now North Texas has an excellent crop to choose from. 

(Photo: Urban Acres)

Food cooperatives have waxed and waned in popularity in the U.S. The concept experienced a boom during the 1960s and 70s, as a result of young people’s renewed interest in natural foods and the popularity of collective living. Co-ops began to emerge in major cities and college towns, including Dallas, to cater to the food-conscious. At the time, a healthy suspicion of leadership led co-op members to make all decisions on what foods to buy and how to purchase and distribute it. Between 1969 and 1979, close to 10,000 food co-ops were established.

Today, the co-op movement is again experiencing a resurgence. And while it seems unlikely that Dallas-Fort Worth will see a significant rise in communal living any time soon, food co-ops seem positioned to grow stronger. Locally, there are a several traditional co-ops as well as some that have tweaked the “standard” model. 

Most co-ops work in a similar fashion. At Willow Bend Garden Cooperative in Denton, a $50 membership fee gains you access to fresh organic produce for members’ pick up. The co-op features many local items grown at Wolf Creek Farm in Lubbock, like vegetables, fruits and fresh and dried herbs; as well as organic produce from trusted distributors.

(Photo: Willow Bend)

As an example, the June 24 basket from Willow Bend featured: apples, avocados, banana, berries, blueberries, lemons, lettuce, mangos, mushrooms, nectarines, squash, fingerlings and Yukon potatoes, beets, garlic and green beans.

Urban Acres in Dallas, was founded in 2010 by Craig Keaton and his wife Bonnie. Co-op members pay a yearly membership of $50 and select a full, half or mini share depending on the size of their household.

(Photo: Urban Acres)

"We source locally and organically and we’re only selling what is the most fresh and abundant,” said Keaton.

One caveat is that you receive whatever fruits and vegetables are in the bin that week. Finding ways to use what you get in a particular week requires a bit of creativity, but it’s a fun and healthy challenge. Urban Acres offers recipes and menu suggestions on their website to provide ideas. 

Once they’ve paid and placed an order, members pick up their bins at one of several different locations. There are currently more than 10 pick up places, with pickups scheduled every other week usually on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings.

“Our family signed up for Urban Acres through a Groupon offer," said Richardson resident Missy Stewart. "We received a half share every two weeks. The vegetables were always fresh and beautiful. The shares included lots of different and and delicious vegetables and fruits…”

Another Texas food co-op, called Your Health Source, was formed by Monica Brown and her husband to offer organic produce and a variety of household items. They also offer nutrition and food preparation classes periodically as well as demonstrations of making bread from freshly milled grain. They have pick-up locations throughout the Metroplex.

(Photo: Your Health Source)

At Cross Timbers Food Cooperative (CTFC) in Denton, members pay their annual fee of $50 and then order their desired products from the “online marketplace.” From cucumbers and tomatoes, garlic and herbs, compost and chickens you can raise yourself. Co-op founders say that offering online ordering is their preferred method.

"It is reduces the amount of time it takes us to process orders and provides you with detailed information about the products you’d like to purchase from us.”

Orders can, however be placed by phone if desired.

Another distinction that CTFC has chosen is to offer individualized ordering. Instead of every patron getting the same items in their bin each time, members order the products they want, based on the availability shown on the website. The online market is updated each month, detailing what is available from participating growers. Pickup is in Denton at the Hilltop Montessori School, on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

(Photo: Cross Timbers/North Tx Organic)

At Farm to Fork in Arlington, grass-fed and pastured meats are featured, along with wild caught seafood and some other local foodstuffs. There is a collection point in Arlington as well as a few other remote pick up spots. You can place an order and then pick it up at your location at a designated pick up time. For residents of the Arlington area, it’s a way to get meat from animals that are treated with kindness and have no unnecessary chemicals or hormones added to their food. Krista Grant writes a pretty witty blog extolling the virtues of preparing and eating grass fed meats at One classic entry, which Krista describes as “amateurish yet passionate”, focuses exclusively on the benefits of grass-fed beef tallow; a much maligned comestible according to Krista.

(Photo: Farm to Fork)

So, if you are willing to pay a small membership fee and think outside the box (or bin) you can pick up delicious produce and meats at multiple places throughout the area. For more information on joining a co-op in your area, take a look at the resources below.

For Your Information: 

Cross Timbers Food Cooperative
If there is no answer, leave a message with your order.
Email: [email protected]
You will receive a call or email with confirmation.

Farm to Fork
2001 W Mayfield Rd.
Arlington, TX 76015.
Email: [email protected]

Urban Acres 
Produce Pick-up and Market: 1301-B West Davis Street
Dallas, TX 75208

Willow Bend Garden Cooperative
P.O. Box 2062
Denton, Texas 76202
Email Shari at: [email protected]

Your Health Source
Email [email protected]


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Penny Ruekberg is a freelance writer based in Dallas-Fort Worth.