Q&A: Urban Acres’ Steven Bailey

While markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have no plans to build in Oak Cliff, locally owned Urban Acres is here, quietly growing every month.

Urban Acres farm store is a 1,200-square-foot neighborhood grocery at Davis and Clinton. While organic markets like Whole Foods and the even more elusive Trader Joe’s have no plans to build in Oak Cliff, locally owned Urban Acres is here, quietly growing every month. It started as a food cooperative two years ago, and now it’s a market that’s open four days a week, Friday through Monday.

Owner Steven Bailey plans to have the store open seven days a week soon, and he wants to open a second store in the Dallas area.

Q. How did Urban Acres get started?
We started running a food co-op about two years ago. Tommy Dyer, who is now the store manager, and I would get in the Volkswagen Rabbit and go find the best eggs or strawberries or milk we could find at local farms. It was many weekends of getting up before dawn and driving all over Texas. At first, we were bringing back five-dozen eggs, a couple of pints of berries, maybe some honey. We’ve tracked thousands and thousands of miles to find the best food.

Q. Why did you do that?
You can find local, and you can find organic, but it’s really hard to find food that is both local and organic. We were just tired of it being hard to find. We were tired of not knowing where our food comes from, so this is our answer to that problem.

Q. So it was just among friends at first?
Yes. It was just friends, and it was like, “Hey, where’d you get those eggs?” and then five friends becomes 15 families, and then people started asking us for specific stuff. So we would be out at these farms, and we’d ask, “Do you know anyone who has organic sweet potatoes?” They’d tell us to ask this farmer down the road, and we’d wind up bringing back three big boxes of sweet potatoes.

Q. How did it grow beyond just your friends?
It happened organically. After about six months, it had grown so much that we were like, “Uh, we might be onto something.” So many people wanted in on it, and that’s when I decided to hit the gas. We organized a little bit more, and we started bringing in produce. People can get a share [which is a bushel basket] of produce every two weeks, and you can add on stuff to your share like milk and eggs.

Q. Where do you operate grocery co-ops besides Oak Cliff?
We have them in Irving, Addison, Park Cities, Uptown, White Rock. They get a share of produce every two weeks, and if they want to add anything, they have to come here to the store.

Q. You opened the store here about a year ago. Do you have to be a co-op member to shop here?
No. That’s one of the misconceptions. The market is for everyone in the community. Because we started as a food co-op, people think that’s all we are. But if you just want to shop here in our market, you don’t have to be a part of the co-op. The co-op is the only way that we can do local organic produce. You only have to do that if you want a produce share. We carry produce that’s left over from the shares, so there’s always something you can buy. Plus, we carry organic meat, wild salmon, organic eggs, milk and most things you would expect to find in an organic market.

Q. What’s next for Urban Acres?
The Texas Honeybee Guild is putting a beehive on our roof, so we will have 75208 honey. Everyone’s real excited about that. We would like to open another store maybe in the McKinney/Allen area. There’s a real need for it there. This winter, if the wet initiative passes, we’d like to start selling organic beer and wine, microbrews and beer and wine from local makers. There’s so much good stuff out there.

More info: Visit urbanacresmarket.com


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