The Old Capitol Farmers Market joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 5-11. The Old Capitol Farmers Market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday, 8:00am -12:30pm, May through October. During National Farmers Market Week, shoppers can look for the following activities:
- Free Farmers Market Temporary Tattoos and Stickers: Available at the Farmer Market Information Booth
- #lovemymarket Instagram Contest: Grab a tattoo, snap your best pic, tag your photo with #lovemymarket @OldCapitolFarmermarket. Photos will be entered into the National Farmers Market Coalition Instagram Contest and winners will be selected nationally as well as locally.
- Eat Local Challenge Sign-Up: The Central Illinois Eat Local Challenge takes place September 1- 30th. Registration officially opens during National Farmers Market Week. Sign up online at www.buyfreshbuylocalcentralillinois.org for free recipes, a chance to win prizes, and upcoming food and farm events across Central Illinois.
Saturday, August 11th
- Yoga under the Mural at 9:00am: Led by Ashley Krustolovich of the Student Yoga and Mindfulness Project.
- Food Recovery Chef Demo with Chef Denise Perry at am: Watch as Chef Denise Perry makes something extraordinary out of the ordinary and discusses the matter of food recovery to prevent waste, save money, and ensure good, clean, fair food for a
- Live music by Tim Garman at 10:00am.
- Slow Food Springfield Tent: Featuring various farmers-market related activities and FREE giveaways, including Flat Stanley Snails. Food Recovery Chef Demo with Chef Denise Perry from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Watch as Chef Denise Perry makes something extraordinary out of the ordinary and discusses the matter of food recovery to prevent waste, save money, and ensure good, clean, fair food for all.
As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. According to statistics recently released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
The Old Capitol Farmers Market in downtown Springfield currently hosts 69 vendors throughout the season, 36 of which are farmers selling everything from sweet corn, peaches, and green beans to more unique items like kohlrabi, fairy tale eggplants, okra, purple cauliflower, and striped heirloom tomatoes. The produce and agricultural products sold at the Market travel an average of 35 miles from the fields of Central Illinois to the Market booths and are picked at the peak of ripeness. By contrast, produce on grocery store shelves travels an average of 1500 miles. Visitors can also find pastured pork and chicken, grass-fed beef, local lamb, free-range eggs and honey, as well as baked good, breakfast tacos, food trucks, and artisan wares.
To facilitate the growth of local businesses and celebrate the unique offerings of the Springfield community, the Market features the following programs:
Signature Ingredient Program: Under this new program, prepared food vendors agree to source and showcase at least one local ingredient each week. The signature ingredient program builds connections between local chefs and farmers and gives shoppers the opportunity to try out the freshest flavors of the season, flavors like mini peach pies, blueberry kale smoothies, and roasted corn and bacon croissants. This program is unique to the Old Capitol Farmers Market!
Local Business Showcase: New this year, the Local Business Tent features a different locally-owned business each week, giving visitors the opportunity to get to know the businesses in Springfield and find local products and services outside of the traditional Market offerings.
Weekly Chef Demo: Chef demos take place at 10:00am most Saturday and feature area chefs preparing recipes with ingredients purchased at the farmers market. Visitors can learn the tricks of the trade for preparing unique ingredients, gather inspiration, and try out free samples.
Weekly Family Fitness Activity: Family fitness activities take place under the Farmers Market mural on the corner of 4th and Adams every Saturday at 9:00am. The fitness activities are led by local gyms and yoga studios. They give visitors the opportunity to test out new routines– everything from kickboxing to zumba– and incorporate fitness into their lifestyle.
Weekly Live Music: Buskers serenade shoppers on Wednesdays and Saturdays and live music is arranged by the Springfield Area Arts Council to take place at 10:00am each Saturday.
SNAP Match Program: Under the SNAP match program, SNAP recipients receive a match of up to $25 to use on fresh fruits and vegetables when they use their LINK cards to shop at the farmers market. The program makes fresh produce more accessible to all members of the Springfield community and puts SNAP funds directly into the pockets of local farmers.
Carey Smith, a shopper at the Old Capitol Farmers Market says that the SNAP match program is an important part of what makes the Market in Springfield so great for her family and for families across Springfield. She notes, “I struggle to feed my family on our SNAP allowance, which is $1 per person per meal. While we are never in danger of starvation, we often experience food insecurity, not having the means to purchase bread, milk, and fresh vegetables and fruits until our SNAP benefits are refilled. I have really appreciated the opportunity to utilize the SNAP match grant offered at the Old State Capitol Farmers Market. I go once per week, and the extra $25 I receive for fresh produce allows me to spend more on meat and bread products at market. This is a huge benefit to our family, and provides a definite relief in our food insecurity issues during the market season.”
GenHKids Food Bank Pick-up: Thanks to the GenHKids Food Bank Pick-Up, farmers have the opportunity to donate excess produce to local food banks, and local food banks have the ability to offer more wholesome products. The program began on Wednesday, July 25th of 2018 and on its inaugural date, farmers donated 168 lbs of produce.
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Manager of the Old Capitol Farmers Market says, “The Market not only serves as an economic hub, but provides a gathering space to showcase the art, culture, businesses and people that make Springfield great. We work hard to make sure it is a welcoming experience for everyone in our community.” She adds, “Springfield is an amazing place to live and work, and that is so apparent when you walk through our farmers market.”
Each Saturday the Market attracts over 3000 adult visitors and 600 children. In 2017, the Market generated an estimated $800,000 in total sales, including nearly $17,000 in sales from the SNAP Match Program. Current data suggests these numbers will be exceeded in 2018. According to the National Farmers Market Coalition, locally-owned retailers, such as farmers markets, return more than three times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to chain competitors.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.“
The Old Capitol Farmers Market is sponsored by HSHS St. John’s Hospital and provided by Downtown Springfield Inc. in cooperation with Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Springfield Area Arts Council.