Vendors are dusting off their recipes and getting back in the kitchen and gardens in preparation for the April 11 opening of the Allen County Farmers Market.
The market is in its fourth year.
This year begins with 12 vendors signed up, said Allen County Farm Bureau coordinator Debbie Bearden. While that may not be as many as previous years, Bearden said “the makeup of the market has matured.”
Each year the market grows a little whether in size or activities.
This year Farm Bureau will be holding a reading round-up the second Thursday of each month. The round-up will give kids the opportunity to stay entertained while their parents or grandparents shop the market.
Bearden said they are looking for volunteers to read to the kids.
As in past years, weekly cooking demonstrations and entertainment will be provided.
Each Friday, market members will bring leftover produce to low-income housing areas so “those without transportation can shop the market,” Bearden said.
The Friday program will not begin until May and June when produce is nearing its peak.
FOR ANYONE questioning the effectiveness of the market from the standpoint of a vendor, Stacy Mueller, owner and operator of Stacy Cakes in Humboldt, says it’s worth the time and effort.
Mueller, a vendor at the market’s first year, said she didn’t see a large profit working the market, but that she “made enough to come back the next week.”
Working the farmers market gave Mueller inspiration to start her own business and also allowed her to test her products’ success.
“If people like it, they will keep coming back,” she said.
Customers kept coming back, including in the off-season when they called her at her home with orders for confections. Opening her own store seemed like the next step.
She opened her business in February 2012. With the success of the store, Mueller has been able to expand her bakery to serving lunch and a daily soup.
Bearden likes to consider the market an “economic incubator.”
THE MARKET now has dedicated vendors. Many, such as Julie Aubert with Aubert Acres, help with the setup of the market and the newsletter.
Aubert works with her parents, Virginia, a baker, and Jim, who picks produce. They provide jams, herbs, baked goods and produce at their stand.
Similar to Mueller, Julie said she and her parents don’t make a large profit but it has helped get their name out.
“It has given us a good venue,” Julie said. “We make enough to keep doing it.”