One of Springfield’s most treasured gems only emerges once a week in the early hours of Saturday mornings. The Springfield Farmer’s Market, nestled into a brick alley beside the Heritage Center, offers the community access to fresh and local fruits, vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, meat, honey, and maple syrup, as well as soap, pottery, and various crafts.
Market managers Tim and Cameron Sonas have been running the market for two years, and have formed a mini-market community.
“The first market of the season was bustling,” said Tim Sonas. “The market is really stepping forward as far as the number of vendors and the variety.”
Cameron Sonas added, “We have around 40 vendors at the beginning of the market season, and then it varies as crops go in and out of growing season.”
This year, due to a cooler summer, many crops are coming in late, providing more availability toward the end of the market season for products like tomatoes, peppers, corn, and other mid-summer crops.
“Toward the end of the market, we usually see lots of apples, pumpkins, and squash,” said Cameron Sonas.
One of the programs the Sonas’ helped institute was a new program to take debit and SNAP cards at the market. The system uses tokens that can be used like cash, and they can be purchased at the manager’s table. Another neat feature is the acceptance of SNAP cards for those on food assistance. However, the market goes further and has a matching program. Thanks to community partners and individual donations, the market matches any SNAP purchase amount up to $25. For example, if an individual purchases $15 on their SNAP card, the market gives them $30 worth of tokens to spend.
“The matching program gives low income families more purchasing power,” said Cameron Sonas. “It helps stretch the budget while also providing options for good nutrition.”
There are several local favorites tucked in among the various fruit and vegetable stands. Blue Jacket Dairy out of Bellefontaine, Ohio specializes in cheese, carrying seven different flavors of cheese curds weekly, along with goat cheese as well as a market favorite, Gretna grillin’ cheese. Virgil’s Fine Soaps corners the market in cleanliness, making fresh homemade soap and lotions. Charming Charlie’s features a wide selection of homemade vegan bread and rolls, locally sourcing as many ingredients as possible. An Oakview farm provides locally-raised meat (pork, beef, and chicken), as well as a killer set of breakfast options featuring their products. The Painted Pepper, the lone market food truck, offers a wide range of delicious locally-sourced southwestern food that is affordable and definitely worth a try.
The market is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and runs through Sept. 27.