Robin Hobson likes to arrive at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market by 5:30 Saturday morning, but she is far from the first person to arrive. The market opens to the public at 8:00am, but many farmers are there well before sunrise to set up their tables.
“I get most excited about how excited vendors are to be bringing what’s coming out of their gardens,” says Hobson, who serves at the market master. “I enjoy the pride on their faces as they’re setting up and making their wares available.”
Forty Years Of Local Food
It’s a milestone year for the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market — its 40th.
Organizers have accepted around 130 vendors this year, but not all the producers will be there every week. For instance, asparagus vendors will only show up for the month of April.
Hobson explains two commonalities amongst producers — they are all from Indiana and they all produce the food they sell. ”So what you see is what is grown by the person behind the table,” she says.
Bloomington’s market was the first in Indiana to accept SNAP benefits, starting in 2007.
Last year, organizers introduced Double Market Bucks, a program that expanded the reach of food stamp money — one SNAP dollar was worth $2.00 with the market’s vendors.
Hobson cites impressive figures:
- In 2012, SNAP dollars used at the market added up to $5,000.
- In 2013, thanks to the Double Market Bucks program, that figure increased to $33,000.
Winter Weather Woes?
Hobson says despite the record cold snaps this winter, the first few installments of the market will feature plenty of fresh produce. Visitors will be able to purchase everything from fresh greens and last year’s sweet potatoes to honey and dried herbs.
“Farmers are a very adaptable bunch,” she says. “I think that is the number one skill for anyone in agriculture is adaptability.”
Hobson speculates that the wacky winter weather could have an affect on when farmers plant tomatoes, peppers and basil.
- What: Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market is a program of the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department
- Where: 401 N. Morton Street, next to the Showers Building (Bloomington City Hall)
- When: Every Saturday, April through September, 8:00am until 1:00pm