“We’ve been open a little over an hour, and we’ve had three customers come in with their SNAP cards, and about five or six to come in and get their vouchers,” says Mallory Rickbeil, a Community Wellness Coordinator for Greene County, Indiana. She is working as the Market Bucks volunteer at the Linton Farmers’ Market.
“Last year, we would have never dreamed that we would have this much participation in one market.”
It was Rickbeil’s conversation with Leigh Bush last week on the podcast that convinced me to visit this market in Linton. It’s in Humphreys Park, right off the main drag in Linton. You can’t miss it as you drive by. Cars are parked every which way. It was a very sunny Saturday morning, so the white tents were gleaming.
The Market Bucks program allows SNAP users cash in up to $10 of their money to receive a dollar-for-dollar match for buying vegetables. The market also partners with the Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program to give participants three $8 vouchers throughout the market season. Take a side step over to Mallory’s table and she doubles that money through the Market Bucks program. That’s what Kelly Dimbath did.
“Today is actually my first day at the farmers’ market, so I am super excited that we have a cart full of food,” she says. For $8, she bought twelve ears of sweet corn and four squash. She says thanks to the WIC and Market Bucks programs, she spends her money here and not at WalMart.
“We try and eat as healthy as we can, but it’s sad because sometimes at the grocery store, the healthier things are the more expensive items. But we came here and stocked up, so we’re going to have some fresh corn and squash tonight for dinner.”
Jill Flachskam has been shopping at the market all five years. She bought a bunch of kale and a couple tomatoes for $5. “It rarely seems to go into the double-digits, no matter how much produce you get,” she says.
With her bag slung over her shoulder, she gives each booth a good long look.
“I live in downtown Linton, so it’s literally a mile away. I could actually walk, but I don’t like to carry so much heavy stuff back,” says Flachskam. “When you move to a small town like this, to have community things to do like this, especially food-based, which I’m interested in.”
Tom Fisher is wandering the market with his daughter Lori. “She kind of looks after me,” says Tom. “My wife passed away last November. Yes, and we do real well.”
They are buying green beans and tomatoes from Rathgeber’s Garten’s booth. “It’s a whole grocery right here for vegetables,” says Tom.
Market Manager Mark Stacy walks a slow circle around the market, smiling and saying his good mornings. He says making the Linton Farmers’ Market accessible to everyone was vital to helping it grow.
“It’s not just a situation where we’re trying to get customers, but we’re also wanting to maintain our vendors. You know, they’re here to make money. We want to do everything we can to provide a venue for which they can do that,” says Stacy.
There are 17 vendors today, which is a far cry from the five vendors who would set up tables during the market’s first year. Stacy has volunteered as the Market Manager since the beginning. It’s been his job to find the farmers and producers to populate the market.
“Our first year, that’s all we were doing, was trying to get more vendors, because we started out so small,” he says. “Now, this year, it’s kind of ironic, I can’t believe it’s happened already, but we’ve pretty much reached our capacity for vendors.”
He points to Providence Farm. Jake Foster is so tall you have to duck under the lip of the tent to see his face. Abigail is sitting on a camping chair. They’re both 21 years old. Today, they’re sell eggs, chicken and grass-fed beef.
This year, it felt right to get the word out about their farm and this market seemed like the perfect venue.
“On the way home from Solsberry, it was on a Saturday and we drove past this market,” says Jake. “We thought, that’s a pretty happening place. So, we pulled in here and talked to Mark and Joanne, and that’s how it started.”
Across the way is the booth with the longest line — Jodi Sexton’s Bundt In The Oven. She sells mini-bundt cakes.
“I started off with six different flavor varieties, now I’m down to two,” she says. “One flavor I have, lemon blueberry, usually as soon as I put it out, there are hawks waiting to get it.”
Sexton has always loved to bake. When she discovered mini bundt tins, she took her hobby to the next level.
“I came to the farmers’ market last year just to try it out, to see how it would go, and loved it. I loved being here, and then everybody loved the cakes,” she says.
Thanks to her success at the market, she’s working to open a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Linton. She’ll hire someone to work the store Saturdays so she can continue selling at the market. She says this is where her roots are, and she doesn’t want to give that up.
“I’ve been a nurse for fifteen years, so this is a huge change for me, but I’m ready to take the leap and see how it goes.”
Stories On This Episode
Biotech company AquaBounty has sold its first shipments of a controversial genetically modified salmon in Canada after 25 years in regulatory limbo.
Millions of eggs have been recalled in European countries afraid they've been contaminated with insecticide. Who is to blame, though?
Researchers in Finland are using electricity to generate food from microbes and other components, a process meant to help fight world hunger.
Dan Williamson revisits his days as a professional chef with Stuffed Mushrooms With Tomato Coulis and Zucchini Hash.
Farm income is down for the fourth-straight year. Prices for the most important crops are down. Some are comparing it to the 1980s Farm Crisis.