Post-Season Markets Support Family Farmers during Holiday Season, Build Tradition
Springfield, IL – Some of the best local produce is at it’s peak just after the outdoor summer market closes. Springfield’s two holiday markets give farmers an opportunity to make the final sales of the season and give shoppers a chance to stock up on the freshest local produce– like carrots, greens, and potatoes– right before the holidays.
“Our customers get a second chance to get great products and we get a second chance to earn money before the holidays,” said Chad Wallace of Oak Tree Farms in Ashland. “When the Old Capitol Farmers Market ends, you’re glad because you get a little break from the hustle of selling every week, but then your paycheck is gone. We’ve done so well at these Holiday Markets sometimes, you can call it a blessing, you can call it whatever you want, but we are happy to be a part of them.”
Springfield farmer Kyle DeWeese of Choice Roots Farm confirms the lack of sales opportunities, “For those of us who extend the season, there is usually a great final harvest– which means lots of greens and vegetables for holiday feasts– but from Halloween until Christmas there are not too many opportunities to sell our goods.”
Janie Maxwell, Executive Director of the Illinois Farmers Market Association, notes that holiday and winter markets are part of a growing trend across Illinois. “The number keeps increasing,” says Maxwell. “In Kane County we now have three winter markets, up from zero just a couple of years ago. There is demand for fresh products all winter long.”
In Springfield, Illinois Stewardship Alliance will host their eleventh annual Holiday Farmers Markets this year. Market Manager Lindsay Keeney states, “Year after year we hear from farmers how important these markets are to them, and every year they keep growing. It’s one of those unique events that just kind of warms your heart. Shoppers get super delicious, wholesome foods to bring home to their families and farmers come away with a little extra cash for the holidays, and all of the money stays locally. At the end of the day, everyone’s smiling.”
She adds, “This year the Illinois Department of Ag was able to provide us with larger buildings, so we can welcome even more farmers.”
Farmers aren’t the only ones who benefit from Holiday Markets however. Springfield shoppers also enjoy the opportunity to purchase fresh produce and unique gifts before the holidays and to make the holiday markets part of family tradition.
Springfield mom Nancy Weichert states, “We make it a priority every year! We shop for holiday meals, but also like stocking up on fall harvest items such as sweet potatoes. We also enjoy the ambiance- having coffee and pastries and even staying for lunch. We often pick up special gifts for family and friends, and our daughter Maizie really enjoys the kids activities.”
Springfield farmer Gus Jones of Small Axe Market Gardens notes that while “it’s nice to have a paycheck right before the holidays” customers also get access to some of the best-tasting produce of the season. He adds that “cold weather turns starches into sugars, making crops like parsnips and Brussel sprouts tastier and sweeter in November and December.”
The Springfield Holiday Farmers Markets are scheduled for Saturday, November 18th in the Expo Building and Saturday, December 16th in the Orr Building from 9am -1pm on the State Fairgrounds.
Saturday, November 19
Illinois State Fairgrounds
9am – 1pm
Saturday, December 16
Illinois State Fairgrounds
9am – 1pm
Each of the Holiday Farmers Markets features at least 40 vendors from central Illinois selling a wide variety of products, including pasture-raised turkeys, lamb, pork, beef, poultry, eggs, produce, cheese, honey, and Illinois wine.
Customers looking to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey can pre-order from Garden Gate Farm. The turkeys are pasture-raised with non-GMO feed and range in size between 14 and 35 lbs. They are priced at $4.00/lb. and can be ordered via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 815-848-3518. Customers can also pick up a holiday leg of lamb from Knob Hill Livestock Company, which is offering a 20% off discount for pre-orders. Orders can be made by contacting Landon Kirby via the Knob Hill Livestock Company Facebook page.
In addition to farm-fresh products and unique local gifts, hot lunch will be available for purchase from Copper Pot Cooking studio, along with coffee and hot chocolate from Custom Cup. Kids activities will also be available as well.
LINK cards will be accepted, and the Double Value Program offered by the Old Capitol Farmers Market will also be available thanks to a sponsorship from Central Baptist Church. The church will provide a match of up to $25 for LINK recipients to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. This means LINK recipients can swipe their card for $25 and receive and additional $25 to use on produce, doubling their purchasing power and making wholesome holiday meals available to families across Springfield.
This event is free and open to the public. It is organized by Illinois Stewardship Alliance and their Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois chapter in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Slow Food Springfield, LRS (Levi, Ray, and Shoup), Illinois National Bank, Illinois Wine, the Bank of Springfield, Troxell Financial, New York Life and the Central Baptist Church. Interested in becoming a sponsor or learning more? Call the Illinois Stewardship Alliance office at 217-528-1563
For more information about the Holiday Farmers Markets contact Illinois Stewardship Alliance, (217) 528-1563 or visit www.ilstewards.org.