Farmers markets yield more customers, vendors

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The Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds in Greenfield is among the largest in Hancock County and starts this weekend. Last year’s market saw an expansion of vendors and an addition of children’s activities; organizers expect that trend to continue in 2023.

Daily Reporter file photo

GREENFIELD – Barb Smith knows a thing or two about farmers markets.

As coordinator of three of Hancock County’s five markets, when she says they’re trending up in attendance and popularity locally, it’s probably true.

“Covid made a change because there’s more entrepreneurship and people just wanting to get out and sell and not be confined to just a regular job,” she said of more vendors wanting spots at events. “The growth of the community’s been a big thing. I think that’s why people want to vend in Greenfield because of the growth in the community– they see more people coming out to the market each week.”

Early May marks the start of the spring and summer farmers market season, with home-grown shopping events in Fortville, McCordsville and New Palestine already launching their markets within the last week. In Greenfield and Cumberland, farmers and vendors will be gathering at the fairgrounds and Cumberland Town Hall this Saturday, May 6 to kick off the new season.

Smith says markets have increased in popularity among both vendors and shoppers within the last three years, and now they’re becoming more of a community event with several offering activities for children to promote a fun, family-friendly shopping atmosphere.

Smith coordinates the Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds in Greenfield each Saturday morning, as well as the market in Cumberland, which happens simultaneously. She also participates in them through Blue River Natural Foods, and her children help out.

Meanwhile, Smith also coordinates the Healthway Park Farmers Market, which happens Tuesday evenings in New Palestine.

So far, the Greenfield and Cumberland markets opening this Saturday will have 30 and 25 vendors respectively. For Greenfield, that’s up by about five from last year. Cumberland and New Palestine markets are holding steady with their participation; New Palestine has about 15 vendors each week at the Hancock Wellness Center parking lot.

Shoppers can not only find fresh fruits and vegetables at the markets, Smith said, but also baked goods, leather crafts, wood work, spice rubs, coffees, teas and more. In Greenfield, ready-to-eat BBQ will be on site regularly, and someone even offers knife and blade sharpening services.

A popular new attraction that came to the fairgrounds location last year was the occasional children’s activity. Smith hopes to bring that back once a month: a free children’s painting class perhaps, or a petting zoo with farm animals.

“It gives the parents a chance to shop at the market and their kids are entertained, and also hopefully with the kids events it gets kids exposed to some of the farm experiences,” Smith said.

There will even be a radio-controlled plane club at some of the local markets this year. She suggests people check social media frequently for updates and events, facebook.com/FarmersMarketAtTheFairgrounds.

Children’s events are also happening at The Market in McCordsville, which organizer Summer Harper says should be fun for families and even four-legged friends. There will be monthly art opportunities for children as well as occasional dog opportunities like paw print flowers and peanut butter lick painting.

The market is open various Sundays throughout the spring, summer and fall. Opening day was April 30, but rain and hail closed the market early. Still, Harper is optimistic for a good May 21 event and a strong year.

She has 26 vendors, but instead of fresh produce and flowers, the Market in McCordsville focuses on artisan crafts from jewelry to candles, and soaps to sauces.

Located on Depot Street near Trax BBQ and Scarlet Lane Brewing Company, Harper said the market attracts restaurant shoppers and visa versa.

“I always take more applications (for vendors) as the season goes on,” Harper said. “It’s honestly because there are no other ones on Sundays, and there’s not another market right here in downtown McCordsville.”

The Fortville Farmers Market had its opening day last week, April 27 and continues with regular hours 4-7:30 p.m. each Thursday through September. This is the second year for its new location in downtown Fortville at the intersection of Noel and Main streets.