Bloomington farmers market vendors firm up alternate spots after two-week cancellation of Saturday market

By Wednesday evening, vendors at the Bloomington farmers market were settling on a few different locations to sell their goods, after Mayor John Hamilton announced on Monday that the market would be closed for the next two Saturdays.

Cropped Hamilton 07.30.2019 IMG_9857
In the center of the frame is Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, at the Tuesday farmers market on July 30, 2019.  The Tuesday market on Madison between 6th and 7th streets, which runs from 4 p.m to 7 p.m., will continue during the suspension of the Saturday market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

As the reason for the temporary closure, Hamilton cited public safety concerns stemming from protests against a vendor believed to be associated with white-supremacist causes.

Vendors had some representation at a morning press conference held by the mayor, but many of the farmers who usually sell at the market were at the time working to find alternate locations.

One location previously reported by The Beacon as a potential site has been nailed down—the parking lot of the east-side Bloomingfoods, across from the old Kmart parking lot. That joins a spot on the northwest side of town at the Urban Air parking lot. [Update Aug. 1 at 2:07 p.m.: The Urban Air location is cancelled.]

Here’s a quick rundown of places where people can buy fresh produce from farmers who would otherwise sell it Saturdays at Bloomington’s farmers market. It’s likely not exhaustive.

  • Urban Air parking lot. Jeff Hanna, whose Triple H Wagyu Cattle Company normally sells beef at the Bloomington farmers market, is organizing up to 25 vendors to sell from this location. [Update: Hanna emailed  The Beacon on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 1, to say it looks like most people are heading to Bloomingfoods/Kmart, so he’s cancelled the Urban Air location.] 
  • Bloomingfoods/Kmart parking lot. Lee Blanton, with Good Life Farms (hydroponic vegetables), is one of several vendors who led the effort to secure the space on the east side of town for the next couple of Saturdays. Cortland Carrington, of American Mushroom & Spice Co. (mushrooms, honey, and herbs), also said he’ll be there. They’re hoping for 75-100 vendors. Morningside Farm (vegetables) also emailed to say they’ll be at the east-side Bloomingfoods location. Added to the growing list of vendors who say they’ll be at this location are Schacht Farm and Linnea’s Greenhouse.
  • Owen County farmers market. Jordan Meurer of Meurer’s Produce (melons, vegetables) and Nicci Keaton of Flying Pig (herbs, eggs, pork, chicken, lamb) both emailed The Beacon to say they’ll be at the Owen County farmers market
  • BTown Beads parking lot. A Facebook post announced that the first market will take place at 725 W Kirkwood Ave in the parking lot of BTown Beads on Sunday Aug. 11. For sale will be produce, art, jewelry, health and natural skin care and body products and services, among other items.
  • Bethel Farm Stop on E. Bethel Lane. Mike Record, with New Ground Farm, a USDA-certified organic vegetable farm, emailed The Beacon to say they’ll have their wares at Bethel Farm Stop, on E. Bethel Lane, on the east side of town. He’s still working on pulling together the details.
  • 5735 W. Duvall Road. Kyle and Maeve Smith, of Wilderlove Farm, emailed to say, “This Saturday [Aug. 3]  we have decided to open a farm stand on our property to allow people to come buy and see the farm in person.”
  • Madison & 6th Street. This is the location of the regular Tuesday farmers market run by the city. It runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Vendors are not waiting out the two-week period, because fresh produce eventually spoils. And even if it didn’t, for farmers to miss two weeks worth of sales would have a significant impact on their livelihoods.

Cortland Carrington, of American Mushroom & Spice, told The Beacon that sales at the Bloomington Saturday market make up about 60 percent of his weekly revenue.

And Lee Blanton, of Good Life Farms, said the current tension at the market stemming from protests “has caused a 75 percent decrease for us in market income from previous years.” Blanton said, “I have not personally heard any safety concerns from any of the customers that have been attending the market, but I have noticed a reduction of attendance of my usual customers…for whatever reason.”

Blanton added: “Without the community’s support we will go bankrupt and disappear quickly. I am disheartened to see demonstrations and dangerous activities brought to a great local venue. I’m hoping that everyone can keep their personal beliefs confined to a place suited for free speech and not for local business.”