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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Bloomington Farmers’ Market Opens For 40th Year

Despite record cold snaps this winter, organizers promise plenty of fresh produce on the first Saturday of the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.

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    Organizers have accepted 130 vendors for this year's market.

  • robin hobson with farmers market organization list

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    Market Master Robin Hobson shows off the layout of all the vendors at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.

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.

SNAP Benefits

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.

The variety is in part thanks to the work several farmers have undergone to extend their growing seasons, whether through building hoop houses or developing hydroponic systems.

“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.

Learn More:

  • 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
Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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