Fairfield Farmers’ Market has room for growth


WHAT: The final Village Green Farmers Market invites children to wear their costumes to trick or treat throughout the market, play free seasonal games, and explore the park with a selfie scavenger hunt. There will be an added fall craft vendors, food trucks, and live entertainment provided by Chris Schram, Better Together, and Fairfield City Starz Junior and Intermediate Hip Hop classes. Additional events include a book walk, pet costume contest, pumpkin bowling and golf, inflatables, games, and picnic area. S'mores will be provided by the Fairfield Fire Department.

WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 19

WHERE: Village Green Park, Fairfield

With just two weeks left in the inaugural year of the Fairfield Farmers Market, organizers and vendors are pleased with the prospects of the market's future — even with lower-than-hoped-for attendance.

But growing the market is really a chicken and egg issue: patrons want to see more vendors, but vendors want to see more patrons.

“It’s a circle,” said John Small, owner of Small Acres Farms in Indiana. “Without one you don’t get the other. The more people that come, the more vendors are willing to come; the more vendors that are willing to come, the more people show.”

Tiffany Acuff, farmers’ market manager, said the market will make some improvements next year and believes “it’s only going to get better.”

“There’s certainly a lot of opportunity for growth,” she said.

As the first season wraps, Acuff said the core customers are happy with the market, as are the core vendors, she said.

“I have happy vendors, I have happy customers, and I have vendors that want to be here next year,” Acuff said.

Growth needs to happen in order for the market to be sustainable, and to do that a lot more of Fairfield’s 42,000-plus residents need to patronize the market, she said.

But there is enough support, Acuff said, that about a dozen of vendors have committed to a two-hour monthly winter farmers’ market to be on the veranda of the Fairfield Community Arts Center, which will start the second Wednesday of November and run until April. The 2017 Fairfield Farmers Market is scheduled from May 3 until mid-October.

The key for next year, Acuff said, is to figure out how to use the entire Village Green Park complex — which includes the Fairfield Community Arts Center, the amphitheater and park, and the Fairfield Lane Library. This year, the market is regulated to the parking lot by the library.

“We have to figure out how to use the park as a bridge,” she said.

The market started in April, going from 4 to 7 p.m. weekly, and runs through Oct. 19, ending with a Farm-R-Treat, where vendors, the Fairfield Lane Library and the city will essentially throw a Halloween-themed party.

Vendors enjoy the market because of the “friendly faces” they see weekly “that really enjoy the product,” said Larry Johnson, of Johnson Family Farm. Just with starting anything new, he said it’s going to take time.

“I think there’s definitely room to grow, but the community does need to be involved for this to be successful for everyone,” Johnson said.

Evie Semertzides, of Mt. Kofinas Olive Oil and Vinegar, was hopeful for Fairfield’s market and despite the attendance thinning out, remains optimistic with the efforts being made by organizers to improve the market.

But it eventually comes down to the people, who she said “are probably not used to it.”

“If there is more traffic, more vendors will come. If people are willing to support the market you will see more vendors,” she said.

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