Did you know it’s National Farmers Market Week this week, August 6th – 12th? When it comes to farmers markets, there is plenty to celebrate. Farmers markets preserve America’s rural livelihood and farmland, stimulate local economies, increase access to fresh, nutritious food, support healthy communities, and promote sustainability. And when you shop at your local farmers market, you support all of those things too!
Farmers markets across Illinois are celebrating this week, so be sure to check out your nearest market to find out what’s happening near you!
And our very own Old Capitol Farmers Market in downtown Springfield is joining in on the celebration as well. The Old Capitol Farmers Market is managed in partnership by Downtown Springfield Inc., Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the Springfield Area Arts Council and has been supporting farmers and our community since 1999, but we’ve grown a lot since then! Check out what makes us unique below and scroll on down for a list of activities going this Saturday at the Market for National Farmers Market Week.
- Producer-only: We’re a producer-only market, which means that all of our vendors grow and raise their own products on their own farms. This means that vendors aren’t allowed to purchase watermelons from Arkansas, or tomatoes from Kentucky and re-sell them at the market, so your dollars directly support local farmers.
- Handcrafted and homemade art: All art is is handcrafted or homemade, which means you are getting a truly unique, one-of-a kind piece of art from local artisans.
- Amazing food trucks featuring local ingredients: Four amazing food trucks frequent our market along with many local chefs that offer prepared food such as smoothies and crepes. All prepared food vendors are required to purchase 50% of their ingredients direct from local farmers, which means they support the farmers at our market and you get amazingly fresh eats. Yum!
- More than 70 farmers: Throughout the season, more than 70 farmers vend at our market and bring with them an amazing variety of local produce, including tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelons, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, potatoes, green beans, salad greens, eggplants, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and lamb, honey, cider, apples, and more. Check out our market map for a list of vendors and products.
- Unique varieties! Fairytale eggplants, green-striped zebra tomatoes, pink heirloom carrots, patty-pan squash…you won’t find this stuff in the grocery store. Our farmers grow their products for great flavor and color, not shelf life. Eat outside the box!
- Local food for all: Fresh produce is more expensive than potato chips, but we think everyone deserves access to wholesome food. At The Old Capitol Farmers Market, we not only make it possible for SNAP recipients to shop at the market, but we provide a match of up to $25 to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. This means SNAP recipients can swipe their card for $25, which can be used on any food item at the market like meats and breads, and we’ll give them an additional $25 to use on produce only, for a total of $50. The SNAP program gives everyone an opportunity to purchase wholesome food and puts dollars back into the pockets of local farmers. Win-Win! This year, we’ve already helped SNAP recipients purchase $2600 of additional fruits and veggies through our matching program! The SNAP program is made possible through a grant with wonderful folks at Link Up Illinois.
In honor of National Farmers Market Week we’ve put together a line-up of awesome activities and offering for our Saturday Market. Check it out:
- 9:00am Family Fitness by Ahh Yoga
- 10:00am Chef Demo by American Harvest Eatery
- 10:00am Live Music by Julie Jules & Company
- Slow Food Springfield Market Take-over: Find the Slow Food information booth for free giveaways including a Flat Stanley Snail. Take Stanley with you to use as a prop in pics that you snap at farmers’ markets and farm-to- table establishments here in Springfield or anywhere you travel. Use the hastags: #sfs #slowfoodspringfield or #slowtheforkdown for all fellow slow food enthusiasts to see and enjoy!
- Eat Local Challenge Registration: During the whole month of September we’re challenging you to spend $20 each week on locally grown food. Challenge participants get access to weekly recipes and meal plans, plus opportunities to win great prizes, and the first 250 to sign up will receive a free market tote! Registration for the Eat Local Challenge kicks off this week, so stop by and sign up at the Market Booth, or sign up online!
- Return of Farmers Market Meal Kits! Chef Denise Perry of Copper Pot Cooking Studio, famous for her weekly crepe offerings, will now be making your mid-week meals a little easier with the debut of her farmers market meal kits featuring fresh, local ingredients and simple recipes. It’s your turn to be the chef! This week’s offerings will include Balsamic Braised Chicken with Grains and Greens, and Summer Vegetable and Bean Tartine. Keep your eye on our Facebook Page for more details.
Additional ways to celebrate:
- Donation Creation Flatbread at Engrained: Engrained Brewing Company is celebrating National Farmers Market Week all month long with a farmers-market inspired flatbread featuring roasted zucchini, charred sweet corn, bacon, basil, and mozzarella. One dollar of every flatbread purchase will go back to Illinois Stewardship Alliance to support their work managing the market.
- Chef Spotlight: All week long check out the Old Capitol Farmers Market Facebook page as we feature the many local chefs that shop at our market, including Maldaner’s, American Harvest Eatery, Augie’s Front Burner, Sobe Sushi, and more. You can celebrate farmers markets any time by stopping in at their establishments for a farm-fresh meal.
Thank you to all of the hard-working farmers, dedicated farmers market shoppers, talented chefs, awesome musicians, fun-loving fitness instructors, committed volunteers, and wonderful organizations that make our farmers market go! We hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us!