The Seymour Area Farmers Market is wrapping up its 2016 season, but there is still time to pick up your fall harvest items.
Although the number of vendors has decreased from earlier this spring and summer, shoppers can still purchase a variety of pumpkins and gourds, apples, persimmons, Indian corn, cornstalks and hay bales.
But that’s not all.
The market also offers meat, including beef and chicken raised locally, eggs, butter and cheese made from local milk, locally produced honey, baked goods, crafts, soaps and even hot breakfast burritos and used books.
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One vendor even sells mushrooms and papaws she collects from local wooded areas. Papaws are like a blend of kiwi, banana and mango.
This was the first year the market had an official manager, Celeste Bowman of Reddington.
Bowman is employed by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, and she and her family also farm and sell at the market.
Bowman said now that the season is almost over, she thinks recent changes to the farmers market, including set hours and more oversight, have had a positive impact.
“We have consistently had a greater number and variety of vendors throughout the season,” she said. “This has increased the attendance of customers at the market.”
Those customers have been able to take advantage of opportunities, including vouchers from WIC and the senior nutrition program and Sprout Bucks certificates for children.
The market also now accepts SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
Having set days and hours of operation is equivalent to shopping at any retail establishment in the community, Bowman said.
“If the general public does not know when you will be open and if they do not know what you will have available, it is more difficult to establish a faithful customer base,” Bowman said.
Kendra Zumhingst of Seymour said because of the changes to the market, she ended up going more.
“I loved the structure and additional vendors,” she said. “As someone who isn’t a real adventurous eater, (I was able to try) new meat cuts, exploring different lettuce types and even trying lamb.”
Sheryl Burke and her husband, Kevin, of Seymour make and sell all-natural dog treats at the market through their business, Bobbie Lou’s Biscuit Co. This was their first year as a vendor.
“I was really happy with the success of our dog treats at the market,” Burke said. “Overall, it has been a great experience. We have met many new, awesome people and have made some great friends.”
She said the market could use more publicity to attract more interest, but she’s not sure what that would be or how it could be done.
“Over the course of the summer, Kevin and I spoke to several local people that didn’t even know we have a market,” she said.
Sara Bane, who heads the farmers market committee, said the market had more than 800 customers mid-season on Saturdays. That’s when popular items such as tomatoes, sweet corn and melons were available.
Because there’s no data from previous years, Bane said there’s no actual way to compare numbers of customers.
“We are certain this has to be an increase in customer traffic, though,” she said of this year’s turnout.
Burke would like to see more vendors participating, too, she said.
“There were maybe 30 or 40 people at the initial meeting at the library. Where did they go?” Burke said. “I think more vendors means more customers, which means more word of mouth and so on.”
That’s not to say that she doesn’t appreciate the vendors who show up every Wednesday afternoon and Saturdays.
“Our market had a great selection of all kinds of things, and I think our vendors are the best,” she said.
Bane said the market has 50 registered vendors, but not all of them set up every day the market is open.
The Burkes already are looking forward to next season.
“Hopefully, it will continue to grow and become more familiar to our community,” she said.
She also likes the idea of having an indoor winter market similar to the one in Columbus.
Bane said a dinner will be at the home of a local farm family in December where all committee members and vendors will be invited to attend.
“We will have an open, friendly discussion about the season … what worked, what didn’t work and what changes do we need to make for next year,” she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Seymour Area Farmers Market may sign up for shifts at signupgenius.com/go/30e044badac2caafa7-volunteer.
To sign up as a vendor, visit seymourchamber.com/pages/seymour-area-farmers-market. For information about the market, visit Seymour Area Farmers Market on Facebook.
Vendor registration fee for the season: $20
Rookie (age 17 or younger) registration fee: Free
Market season: Last weekend in May through last weekend in October.
Hours: Wednesdays 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Questions: Call the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce at 812-522-3681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org