Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 19, 2013

Market set to bloom

Kokomo Farmer’s Market re-opens Saturday

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— The Kokomo Farmer’s Market takes up a position on the main drag this year in more ways than one.

Not only has the market been relocated to the corner of Mulberry and Washington streets downtown, it is also riding the crest of a national wave of farmer’s market mania.

No one knows that better than “Market Master Mandy” Wright-Jarrett, who is expecting more vendors, more visitors and more market offerings as the growing market enters its sixth year.

“People know that Saturday morning is the time to do things downtown with their family,” she said.

Located across Mulberry from Grace United Methodist Church, the new market site offers plenty of parking and space for vendors, as well as Wi-Fi service (a first at the market) and produce grown and sold by the same grower.

Vendors at the Kokomo Market, which opens Saturday and runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October, aren’t allowed to buy food at food auctions and bring the items to market. Vendors can’t sell things at the Kokomo Market that they didn’t grow or make.

“When you go to buy an apple here, you know the person you bought it from is the one who grew it,” Wright-Jarrett said. “They can answer your questions. That’s really our niche.”

That also means the market is hyper-local and

hyper-seasonal. Saturday, since it’s still early in the spring, the produce will probably be greens, lettuce and spinach, along with root vegetables, she said.

Vendors will have starter plants, flowers, eggs, sweets, baked goods and who knows what else. That’s part of the fun of the market, just seeing what everyone brings, Wright-Jarrett said.

Wright-Jarrett said she’s especially excited about the Gerig family of Kempton, who produced more than 100 gallons of maple syrup this winter and are ready to sell.

Vendor Wesley Gingerich, who runs Copper Creek Farms near Waupecong with his wife, Karen, is planning to bring some duck and turkey eggs to the market Saturday.

“I don’t know if they’re much different [than chicken eggs], just bigger,”

he said.

Well, that, and the duck eggs, from an Indian Runner duck, are green on the outside, he added.

The market is a source of cheese and there’s no reason to go to Indianapolis to buy raw milk, it’s usually available.

Gingerich said what started with six regular vendors now totals 18 regulars, and he expects it to continue to grow.

“More people are interested in buying from a farmer’s market. The food is fresh, and they know where it comes from,” he said.

“Fifty years ago, you could raise produce and take it to town and sell it — just set up a wagon on the street and sell it and then come home again,” he added. “We got away from doing that, but now it’s coming back again.”

Ivy Tech State College, Howard County and St. Joseph Hospital are new stakeholders for this year’s market, Wright-Jarrett said, and Kokomo has improved the parking lot with electric service and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

There will be live music, children’s activities, and usually between 25 and 40 vendors during peak summer months, when the countryside around Kokomo provides a bounty.

“It’s the slow food movement,” Wright-Jarrett said. “When you eat food grown within 30 to 60 miles of where you live, you cut down on the amount of food being shipped. It’s fresher, it’s greener and it stimulates the local economy.”

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.