From April to November when the temperature isn’t below freezing, every Saturday next to the square next to the City Hall Building, there is a huge Farmer’s Market. I love to go there in the morning, especially now that the bus comes directly in front of my apartment to an area that is about a 3 minute’s walk to the actual market. In spite of Bloomington IN being a small college town, the farmer’s market here is one of the most impressive I have seen, not only in the US but in the whole world. Not even the farmer’s markets in Santa Barbara or Seoul can compare to the one here.
This week, instead of just being a passive shopper, I decided to take a more active role in my farmer’s market experience and interview some of the stall owners. It was actually a lot more fun than just buying their goods; by talking to them and asking questions about their practices and produce, I was able to make much more educated purchases as well as to socialize with the numerous vendors that I had bought my groceries from but never actually talked with.
First up was Cathy Crosson. She was a 58 year old retired professor from the university here, and now she owns a farm in Owen County with a bunch of alpacas. She was also the owner of a garlic stall next to the yarn stall, but (surprise surprise) I was more interested in the colourful fuzzy skeins of soft alpaca yarn, which I ended up buying. Cathy was also obviously in love with the Bloomington Farmer’s Market, proclaiming it as one of the best farmer’s markets in the nation (a sentiment that I have to agree with). In addition to being a vendor here, she herself is also a customer of the many stalls here, because she loves supporting her friends and the local agricultural economy.
Bryant Farm is a family-owned business that has been a vendor in the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for 10 years. They also were vendors in other markets such as the original Indiana Farmer’s Market (9 years) and the State House Farmer’s Market (just 1 year), but like Cathy, they readily agreed that the farmer’s market in Bloomington was the best out of them all. They were especially proud of their eggplants (no wonder; look at them! They’re gorgeous), and told me that they used seaweed-based feed with neem oil and organic well water. Yum!
My last interview was with Travis Dekoker, the Lavender Man of Lavender Valley Farm. He was a completely new vendor to the farmer’s market at Bloomington, as it was only the farm’s 3rd year in operation and the first mature season. Travis used to work in a clock shop before figuring out that he needed to do something with his family’s farm that was just sitting there. He decided on lavenders because they are very self-sufficient (as he explained, there is no need to water or fertilize them, and the lavender acts as its own pest-repellent), and because it was unique (he does have a point there; how many squash and tomato stalls do you see in any farmer’s market?).
And I present to you now, a photo stream of some of the wonderful sights of Bloomington’s Farmer’s Market!
This coming October 13th is a very special day for the Bloomington’s Farmer’s Market. In collaboration with the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD), there is going to be a Fair of the Arts, where artists and craftsmen will be able to sell their goods at the market. Super excited! Bloomington has a surprisingly huge artists’ population, so whatever shops that pass the juried process should have very interesting and high-quality goods. Definitely looking forward to going to that 🙂
Do you have any farmer’s markets where you live? What do you think of the whole farmer’s market experience? Why do you think people continue to shop at farmer’s markets as opposed to cheaper mass produced supermarket foods?