Jan 23, 2024
Farmers markets: A diversity of products and a sense of community
Heather Holmes has what must be the most colorful booth at the Macomb Farmers Market. “All kinds of things that fall under the umbrella of fiber arts is what I do,” she said. Holmes is an independent
Heather Holmes has what must be the most colorful booth at the Macomb Farmers Market.
“All kinds of things that fall under the umbrella of fiber arts is what I do,” she said.
Holmes is an independent yarn buyer. She hand dyes yarn and knits, crochets, sews, and spins yarn.
She sells her products online through her business, Noumea Hand Dyed Yarn and Fiber. And Holmes said she found a new customer base this year through the Macomb Farmers Market, where she has met a lot of people.
“I feel like the farmers market brings a sense of community to the area. You get to see people again and again and develop a rapport and relationships with your customers, which is really nice,” Holmes said.
She did not originally think a farmer’s market was for her, but she came around to the idea by accident one day.
“It was something that I stumbled across while doing research on YouTube University. There was another couple of women who were out on the west coast, and that’s how they started. And I thought, ‘What a great idea.’ I need to think outside of the box, and here I am,” Holmes said.
She plans to participate in Macomb’s winter market if she can secure a spot, and said she will definitely be back for the regular market next year.
National Farmers Market Week
August 6-12 is National Farmers Market week. Advocates say the markets increase access to fresh, nutritious food.
And increasingly, you can find more than just food at the markets. Crafts are becoming part of the scene too.
In addition to Holmes, another example at the Macomb market is Lanet’s Luxury Candle Company.
Owner Alexis Joyner makes candles out of coconut apricot cream wax, wax melts, and car fresheners. She sells products online, but said the farmers market is an opportunity to meet customers and talk to them about her products.
“They can learn about me and learn about my business and my products rather than just being like, ‘Oh well, it’s online, so now I have to guess the smell.’ That’s why I decided to do the farmers market,” Joyner said.
It’s also a chance to ask customers what type of scents they enjoy and then try to produce a candle that they would like while giving them a chance to sample the aroma.
“Yep. Free smells,” she said with a laugh.
Like Holmes, Joyner enjoys the sense of community at the market.
“I think a lot of the vendors are close. We all support each other when we can,” she said.
John Greenwood, manager of the Macomb market, said farmers markets are good for the economy and the community.
“The dollars spent at the farmers market are probably going to stay very local,” Greenwood said. “The vendors here all live within 20-25 miles from here.”
Greenwood said the Macomb market started in 1975. It’s had its ups and downs through the years. Greenwood said they were down to just four or five vendors a few years ago. Now sometimes there are more than 20 vendors.
Yes, there’s food there too
All manner of seasonal produce can be bought at markets, along with baked goods and more.
The Macomb market also features fresh meats from C & N Farms LLC.
Karen Waddell said their pasture raised, USDA certified meats include beef, pork, chicken, goat, and lamb.
C & N has been coming to the Macomb market for several years.
“Our business has really grown. We have lots of repeat customers and they all come back and tell us that we have the best meat they’ve ever had. It’s more like what grandpa used to raise,” she said.
The business sells meat online, but Waddell said she enjoys interacting with people at the market.
“This is like therapy for me because I’m out meeting people, talking to people. We’re all having such a good time,” she said.
In addition to selling frozen meat every Thursday and Saturday, C & N also cooks sandwiches at the market on Saturday mornings.
Markets around the region
Stronghurst Farmers Market: Remaining dates this year are August 7, August 21, and September 11 on Broadway St.
Tri States Public Radio produced this story. TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.