by Lee Edgren
The St. David's Bean Blossom Farmers' Market is ripening rapidly in its very first season. Brown County residents have been asking for it for years. And now the folks at St. David's Episcopal Church have created a market on the church property at the corner of SRs 135 and 45 that has become an immediate hit with shoppers and producers alike.
Stop in on a Friday afternoon between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. from now until the end of October. The market is open "rain, shine, or snow." You'll find wonderful Indiana-grown or made foods (most from Brown County) as well as crafts, conversation, and friendly marketers. You'll have the satisfaction of supporting local growers, and have the opportunity to buy both organic and conventionally grown foods fresh from the field or tree. And since St. David's is known for music, you'll hear live music by local artists as well.
Market Manager Rich Hill and Eli Rodriguez, Market Master, are excited about the market's immediate success, the friendliness of the sellers and buyers, and its prospects for the future. "We love what we're doing," Rich states. They, along with Carol Bell, Jan Holloway, and Donna Niednagel, formed the market team that brought the market into being. "Tourists who stop in on their way to Nashville or to the Brown County State Park, will get to know real Brown County people. And they'll be greeted with smiles. We love the comfortable, inviting quality of the market," Eli adds.
You'll find fruits, vegetables, dried and fresh herbs and spices, plants, flowers, honey, eggs, cookies, cakes, fruit pies, cupcakes, fresh-baked yeast breads, and candies, such as caramels, chocolates, fudge, peanut brittle and chocolate covered nuts.
The market is pet friendly—to friendly pets on a leash. And you can sip a seasonally-appropriate beverage as you shop. St. David's is selling lemon shakeups during the warm season, and will be switching to cider and hot chocolate on cool days in the fall. In October, there will be a "punkin' patch," and a special kids event near Halloween.
The committee began organizing in earnest in April, after the Earth Day event at the Brown County YMCA confirmed that there was indeed a market for the market. "When we first had the idea, we heard of so many instances when it didn't work out," Rich says "but after a little initial discouragement, we finally decided to go for it. The church came together and got behind it."
With thriving farmers' markets in both Bloomington and Columbus, there was concern that growers might not support a smaller local market. Both men laugh as they tell the story of Carol Bell driving the county's back roads looking for "pretty gardens," and knocking on doors to raise interest among potential marketers. The market opened this year on July 12 and now has 21 regular vendors, with room for about nine more. It will close the last Friday in October.
A unique feature of the Bean Blossom Farmers' Market is that all those selling at the market have to be "producers," meaning that they are selling food or goods that they have grown or made. These can be supplemented by purchased items, but the two must be clearly labeled. Everything sold must be grown or made in Indiana. In addition, there is a requirement for strict adherence to Brown County Health Department rules and regulations.
Anyone can obtain an application, which contains the market rules, by either contacting St. David's church or by talking to either Rich or Eli at the market. A ten-by-ten booth space costs only $25 for the entire season. And with spaces still available, producers can rent for one market day at a time for $10.
"We have a nice agreement with McDonald's Shopworth about parking. And we're happy to know that people who are shopping at our market are also shopping there, too," Eli notes. "Really, we're hearing nothing negative. People are simply overjoyed that we're here."
"This is a great opportunity for people to get to know us and our church and to see what the church offers, like our gathering place, which is open to everyone, and our kitchen." Eli notes. "Our people love to interact with other people. Everybody is welcoming."
While information about the market can be found on the church website this year <http://www.stdavidsbb.indydio.org/>, the market will have its own website next year. The committee is also planning on bringing in a flat-bed truck for use as a sound stage, more special events for the future, and greater use of the beautiful ground behind the church. As Rich concludes, "We think we're here to stay."