Market Season Arrives - Area Farmers Markets, Saxony Market

Market Season Arrives - Area Farmers Markets, Saxony Market

Market Season Arrives - Area Farmers Markets, Saxony Market

May 26, 2011 - Indianapolis Star

By: Melanie D. Hayes

As the weather warms up and the sun shines longer each day, people crave outdoor activities.

One of the popular options are farmers markets -- and there are at least six in Hamilton County.

The Fishers Famers Market has returned for its eighth year in the town's municipal complex and will be there every Saturday morning through Sept. 24 in front of the Fishers Train Station.

When it began years ago, it had 15 vendors. This year, it has capped out at 41 and draws on average 2,000 visitors each weekend, said Carol Doehrman, events and community development coordinator with the Fishers Chamber of Commerce, the organizer.

"We try to keep it a pure market with products that visitors would expect to find at a farmers market," she said. "All the fruits and vegetables will be in season."

About 90 percent of the items sold will be food related, she said. There will be fresh produce, frozen meats, kettle corn, baked goods, hot sauces, salsas, jams, jellies and honey.

A farmer will be making and selling breakfast sandwiches, fruit kabobs and yogurts -- all made from his own farm products, Doehrman said. A woman will also be cooking egg rolls on site.

"We will have very few handmade craft items, and those that we do have must be things that are used outside, like birdhouses and birdbaths," she said.

When the market was created, it was split half and half between food and crafts vendors.

"Over the years we have received feedback from visitors who stressed they really enjoyed having food items to choose from," Doehrman said. "They were not so much about the arts and crafts. They liked the atmosphere of being an outside market -- they did not want it to become a flea market."

So, organizers changed the ratio and reduced the number of arts and craft vendors allowed. Some of the vendors who have been around since the beginning were grandfathered in and have been allowed to return year after year to sell handmade baby blankets and soap, she said.

Other non-food items for sale: Adirondack furniture, garden trellises, annual and perennial flowers, and environmentally friendly worm compost.

A newer market in Fishers is returning for its second year, hoping to draw in people from other areas of the town.

The Saxony Market, off Olio Road at 131st Street in the Saxony development, was created by Republic Development, said Candi McKinnies-Shreve, community coordinator and market coordinator for Saxony.

"We started it because the Saxony development is a mixed-use development with residential and retail and commercial spaces," she said. "One of the things we are trying to create in this community is an area where you can live, play, learn and work. (With the market) we are trying to create a weekly community event that families will want to come out and participate in."

The market is still young and small. It has 20 vendors and last year drew an average of 500 people each Saturday. But organizers are open to, and hoping for, growth during the season and in the future. There are six more vendors already signed up to join the group in the next few weeks, and others who are interested can do so at any time.

"There are farmers markets in the greater area, but not in this area," said McKinnies-Shreve. "We are eight to 10 miles away from downtown Fishers. Same with Noblesville. We are trying to bring this community together . . . from the general area and around Geist."

There are several vendors who have booths in the Saxony, Fishers and Noblesville markets, so people can go to any of the markets to find those items. But each market also tries to offer specialty items and services to stand out.

"We have fresh produce, organic produce, antibiotic-free and no-hormone-added meats," McKinnies-Shreve said. "We have great baked goods from two different bakeries in the Geist area."

Other items include gourmet coffee, spinach balls and dips, jellies, jams, salsas and honey. And in the craft booths, there are such items as candles, handmade jewelry and totes. The weekly event will offer live music and children's activities, including games and bounce houses.

"We want it to be a fun day," she said, "a family ritual."

The two Fishers markets offer smaller, cozier atmospheres, but for people seeking a much larger market with more options, the Noblesville Farmers Market has also started with almost 80 vendors in almost 100 booths. It lasts longer than the Fishers and Saxony markets, held every Saturday through Oct. 29.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts are among the goods for sale.

"They have to grow it, make it or bake it," said Joe Arrowood, executive director of Noblesville Main Street, organizer of the weekly event. "They can't go out and buy something and bring it to sell it. If they have soap, it has to be handmade. If they sell wooden boxes, they have to make them."

Additionally, organizers try to limit vendors who offer similar crafts, services and foods so that there isn't a lot of repetition, said Jeff Zeckel, the market manager. Arts and crafts include woodwork, jewelry, tie-dye clothing, artistic gourds, oil paintings and photography.

Zeckel said that this year there are more vendors selling finished foods than before -- loaves of bread, pies, sweet rolls, pulled pork, burgers and other things ready to be eaten. There will also be a vendor selling elk meat in the future, Amish baked goods, and an all-natural beef vendor.

Zeckel said that people are drawn to farmers markets because they are seeking local, fresh produce.

"They want healthier food that doesn't spend a long time in the food and distribution chain," he said. "And the crafts are geared toward arts instead of something you would buy at Walmart. There is part of that person (the artist) in that jewelry and woodworking item."