Spring has indeed sprung! After a long winter’s nap, your all-local, grower-only Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market (SAFM) reopens for its sixth season Friday. With five seasons under our collective “green belts” we are still growing, and still so grateful to those who have helped the market on its way.
But first, a reintroduction: if you’re new to the Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market, you’ll be glad to know that our commitment to “local” and “grower-only” translate into many good things to our customers. Our vendors come from Pettis and its contiguous counties (with very limited and specific exceptions); meaning the dollars you spend at the Market, like good compost for a garden, go back to enriching our local economy.
By “grower-only” we mean that our vendors must grow or produce the items which they sell at the market (again, with limited and specific exceptions). For you, the customer, this means the freshest (and tastiest) food, likely harvested or made that very day; and high value for your hard-earned dollars. As a special bonus, it also means that you can ask for the story behind the product: how it was grown or made, and likely get a good recipe to boot.
And, oh, the variety we have seen during the last five years. Our product offerings have included the market staples such as tomatoes, sweet corn, lettuce, eggs, and bread, but also exotics such as “yard long” green beans, Jerusalem artichokes, Russian pierogies, edible “weeds,” oyster mushrooms, chocolate mint plants, and more.
Our customers have come from both near and far: an African missionary, BMW riders from Germany, Harley riders from California, RVers from all over. Our market weather has included heat wave, drought, torrential rain, and yes, even snow on opening day last year. One of the unique joys of the SAFM is that surprises like this arrive every market day.
Another wonderful quality of grower-only markets is the cultivation of vendor relationships. To that end, our board conducts farm visits each season to get to know our vendors better and share their stories with you. From cattle ranches to kitchens, we learn and document these visits on our Facebook page.
Looking back on our first market season in 2009, we had six regular vendors and about 30 regular (and very committed) customers. By last season, we had more than doubled that number of regular vendors, with a daily customer base of about 300 fine folks. We’re honored and pleased to call all of them, vendors and customers, our friends.
Like any thriving ecosystem, the Market’s health depends upon harmonious interaction of a multitude of factors: growers, customers, volunteers, and partners. We’d like to give a special shout out to Bothwell Regional Health Center, who has been and continues to be a visionary partner in EBT/SNAP benefit matching. In order to help all people have access to fresh, local food, customers who receive EBT/SNAP benefits (the program formerly known as food stamps), can have their benefits matched up to $10 per market day, while funds last. Just come to the market master tent for information.
Our local MFA Agri-Services has been a major advertising supporter from the very beginning, thanks to General Manager Kevin Daniel. This year, Kevin even convinced his wife Jamie to come on board as a volunteer. We thank you and look forward to continuing to grow that partnership.
You’ll find us rain or shine on the Missouri State Fairgrounds (another wonderful partnership) just inside the gate across from Kehde’s BBQ. We’re open on Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. (6 p.m. in September and October) all the way through the end of October.
If you have questions, go to our website at sedaliareafarmersmarket.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 620-6841 or 281-7244; or best of all, come find us at the Market Master tent during market hours, under the banner that says “Market Master Tent: Get Debit & SNAP tokens, water, info and HUGS here.”