How the Springfield Farmers Market Supports Entrepreneurs, Strengthens the Economy, and Improve the Health of our Community
4 Aug 2023
The Springfield Farmers Market entered its 17th season this summer with over 60 vendors signed up to participate. “This is even bigger than most of the other markets I see,” said Camaren Sloan, the event manager for the Farmers Market. “I’ve been managing the Farmers Market for ten years and we’re still growing.”
Operated by the Greater Springfield Partnership (GSP), the Farmers Market has been the launching pad for local businesses, served as a gathering place for the community, and helped to improve the health of local residents by making fresh, healthy food available at an affordable cost.
Supporting Clark County Entrepreneurs
One of the primary benefits of farmer's markets is the platform they provide for local entrepreneurs. These markets offer a low-barrier entry for small-scale farmers, food artisans, and craftspeople to showcase their products directly to consumers. Unlike traditional retail channels, which often require substantial financial resources and infrastructure, farmer's markets enable entrepreneurs to establish a direct connection with their customers without high overhead costs.
Direct interactions with customers also make it easier for Springfield’s entrepreneurs to test the market, receive real-time feedback, and build a loyal customer base. Honey Creek Beef is a perfect example of how selling at the Farmers Market can benefit local businesses. When they first started selling at the Market it was one of their primary avenues for sales. They built a loyal customer following that enabled them to expand and sell to restaurants. “Honey Creek Beef has become synonymous with high quality. We hear of people going into restaurants and asking for it specifically,” said Chris Schutte, Vice President, Destination Marketing and Communications for the GSP. “It’s become a way for restaurants to support local producers and gain a competitive advantage at the same time because customers know what they are eating is incredibly fresh.” And while owner Adam Frantz has greatly expanded his business, you can still find him at the Springfield Farmers Market chatting with customers and supporting other vendors. “The Market’s atmosphere is incredibly supportive and is part of the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem we have in Springfield,” said Schutte.
The Springfield Farmers Market Strengthens Our Economy
“The Farmers Market brings together a wide variety of shoppers, customers, vendors, and it connects the community in a way not a lot of events can,” said Sloan. The Market contributes significantly to the economic vitality of Clark County by providing an affordable platform for entrepreneurs to sell their products, test the market, and connect with customers. When their businesses succeed new jobs are created within the community. In addition, the money spent at the Market circulates within the community, supporting other local businesses so they can create jobs and generate tax revenue. This economic multiplier effect is particularly potent when compared to dollars spent at national supermarket chains or online retailers, which often funnel a significant portion of the revenue out of the local community.
Improving Community Health
The Springfield Farmers Market is uniquely positioned to improve community health, thanks in part to funds provided by the Greater Springfield Partnership. “This year, we took steps to make it even more affordable for Clark County families to access fresh fruits, vegetables, and locally sourced products,” said Sloan. “We accept EBT cards and when people use them, the GSP doubles what they spend. Thanks in part to funds provided by market sponsors via the GSP, we are able to match it and give them a produce card. Essentially, someone can spend $25 and get $75 worth of fresh food that will nourish their body.” The Market also has a Senior Dollars program, so elderly residents can afford more fresh produce.
“One of our vendors - On the Rise works with at-risk children who have already been in detention,” said Schutte. “Kids work on the farm and at the Market so they learn work and entrepreneur skills.”
Visit the Springfield Farmers Market
“The Springfield Farmers Market has an incredible atmosphere and a great way to spend a Saturday morning. We encourage entrepreneurs and residents to participate and benefit from this amazing community resource,” said Sloan.
If you haven’t visited the Springfield Farmers Market yet, it runs every Saturday, June through September, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at its home at 117 S. Fountain Ave., next to the Heritage Center Museum and COhatch the Market and on the Esplanade. You should also mark your calendar for MarketFest '23 on Thursday, August 17th from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Market Alley and the Esplanade downtown. There will be 60+ vendors, food trucks and the Mother Stewart's Brewing beer garden, along with a performance by Kate Hasting.
For more information, visit their Facebook page.