Ferrum Forward Hosts Farmer’s Market Finale

Thirty-three vendors and more than 300 people were on hand for Ferrum Forwards final Farmers Market of the season.
Thirty-three vendors and more than 300 people were on hand for Ferrum Forward’s final Farmer’s Market of the season.
Kyle Markowitz

This past April, Ferrum Forward began hosting a Farmers Market in the Village, and its final market–The Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 11–was the biggest of the year.

“We ended up with 33 vendors and around 300 customers that came to shop, which is well beyond any turnout we’ve had before,” Rebecca Saunders said. “Our normal markets average around 125 customers and 12-15 vendors, so this was a phenomenal turnout overall.”

From the beginning, Ferrum Forward hasn’t charged vendors for spaces at the Market.

“(Hidden Treasures owner) Kat Harrison, who was really the driving force behind the creation of the Farmers Market, as a small business owner, knows just how much those costs can cut into profits for a farmer, crafter, baker, and/or maker, so it’s something we’re passionate about maintaining for our vendors,” Saunders said.

Saturday markets began April 29, and ran until Oct. 21, but with people being busy on Saturdays, an evening market was proposed.

“Ferrum Forward member Susan Selvage spearheaded the evening market idea and polled the vendors on which day of the week would be best for them, and Thursday was the overwhelming winner,” Saunders said.

Thursday markets began in September and ran until Oct. 19.

“Thursday markets grew exponentially, starting out with 15 vendors and 100 customers to the final market having 21 vendors and 150 customers, which was our best market day before the Holiday Craft Bazaar,” Saunders said.

For the last two years, the Ferrum Faith Assembly of God Church has allowed Ferrum Forward to use its parking lot for the Saturday markets.

But with a change in leadership at the church, it has created uncertainty inside Ferrum Forward about using this location in the future.

Saunders–a member of Ferrum Forward and Executive Director of Friends of Ferrum Park, purchased a $100 permit with her husband Ed Saunders.

“It covered projects being held on the property by both Friends of Ferrum Park (Halloween Trail) and Ferrum Forward (Farmers Markets),” Saunders said.  “Ferrum Forward covered the cost of the insurance for the Farmers Market.”

Saunders and other members of Ferrum Forward had a goal in mind for the markets.

“The goal for the markets has been to really help promote all of the talented growers, makers, and bakers that Ferrum has here and provide the community with the opportunity to buy local,” Saunders said.

Ferrum Forward said what differentiates their markets from others is the people.

“We try to foster a sense of socialness. It’s truly about building community and trying to give people a space where they can be together,” Saunders said.  “Even the vendors are supportive of one another.  They spent a lot of their down time talking with each other, buying products, and being supportive of each other’s work.”

This led both vendors and customers asking whether Ferrum Forward could continue having markets through the holiday season.

Ferrum Forward had to say no due to the specific dates they requested from the county.

“If our proposal (Friends of Ferrum Park) is chosen by the county, the farmers market will have a permanent location there, and we will be putting in a dedicated pavilion and parking lot to better accommodate both vendors and customers,” Saunders said. “These last few months have shown just how much people seem to enjoy and need those community connections.  I hope everything works out, and we can do even with-it next year.”

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