Across the street from Beans-N-Cream and behind Cedarville Hardware, vendors convene for the town’s Farm and Art Market. It’s held 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday in June – October.
With six to 10 regular vendors, the market generates considerable interest within Cedarville’s community.
Vendors chat and laugh with their regular customers and extend a hearty welcome to new faces. Vendors take shelter from the sun in canopy tents and plastic bags overflow with produce.
Vegetables, fruits, jams, pies, breads, desserts, clothing, handmade artwork and more sit displayed in the parking lot. Coupled with the sense of community,
Cedarville’s Farm and Art Market mirrors a scene from an old-fashioned town.
Lori Harris, coordinator of the market, said the market began five years ago in Cedarville. The market is open to sellers with any sort of art, handcraft or homegrown produce.
Many vendors tell stories about the products they sell and why they sell them.
Gail Gill sat with her husband at a booth behind rows of homemade pies and bread.
“She’s been making them since 1962,” her husband said. “We used to own a restaurant, and Mike is a good friend of ours,” Gill said, pointing to the man in the next booth. “He talked us into doing this.”
“My pies and breads have been going really well,” Gail said. When asked if she made everything herself, she responded, “Been in the kitchen all day. Took longer to clean up the mess, really!”
Another vendor, Mike Geis, owns greenhouses just off of Route 72. He and his wife Darla have a family-owned and operated farm, called Friendly Knoll Farm.
“We’ve been where we’re at since ‘77 and we started greenhouses in ‘78,” Geis said. “We grow all the mums and herbs and plants. We just picked the peppers and the green tomatoes this morning.”
Geis said he went to farmer’s markets as a young boy. He said he remembers a street in downtown Springfield, Ohio, being closed so that people could wander freely among the street vendors. Geis said he attended markets across Ohio five days a week for several years. Now he attends four each week.
Vendors at the market sell crafts in addition to selling fresh produce.
Brenda Walters, owner of North River Alpacas, comes to the market weekly to sell yarn, hats, socks and other items made from alpaca fleece. Located in Yellow Springs, her alpaca farm has a wide, yet community-based outreach. Walters works with companies from Peru that work to improve community life there.
“We generally work with companies that have direct connections to communities in Peru so we know we can see the benefits,” she said. “We hear the stories of the benefits of what the business is doing for them as a community.”
Walters said she is new to the market.
“We just started this year,” she said. “I said, ‘you know what? We’re local. Even if we don’t sell anything, we need to be here.’ And it’s great. A lot of people didn’t even know that we were three miles up the road. A lot of the best kept secrets are right here in your backyard – that’s us!”
When Harris was asked about the reasoning behind making Cedarville’s market open to art vendors, she said, “It’s a handcraft, so it’s similar to the small business idea. It’s also supporting start-up entrepreneurs. A lot of farmer’s markets and art markets are really important to the community because they are small business incubators.”
According to Harris, every second Thursday of the month the market is open to vendors selling commercial products, like Mary Kay. However, the rest of the time is dedicated to small businesses.
“It’s really helping those smaller businesses expand, expand the opportunities for people in the village,” Harris said. “It’s just a very economical way to test your business, you know, see what’s popular, see what people are interested in.”
For Cedarville students, “It’s not just produce,” Harris said. “If they’re worried about, ‘Oh, it’s just stuff you have to cook and I can’t cook in the dorm,’ it’s not just that. So come down and check out what’s here!”
Hannah Ingram, a junior student at Cedarville, said, “Although it was one of the smallest markets I’ve been to, it was a very enjoyable and unique experience. The vendors were welcoming, informative, and had a wonderful variety of products to sell!”
Kaity Kenniv is a junior Biblical studies major and a reporter for Cedars. She loves reading by a blazing fireplace, taking long walks in the autumn and a cup of hot tea in the morning.