Wednesday, May 02, 2012

TOP STORY >> Farmers markets ready for crowds

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Farmers’ Market near the community center had a disappointing first two years because it was essentially boycotted by local farmers.

But new rules that ban wholesalers and require all produce be grown in Arkansas are expected to turn it around.

The market will be open from 6 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Wednesdays beginning this weekend and continuing until the end of October.

Jacksonville Parks Director Kristen Kennon, who oversees the market, said the lack of local involvement was very troublesome.

“The farmers weren’t coming out because the wholesalers were there,” Kennon said. “They said they wouldn’t participate in a market where wholesalers were allowed. So after two years of it not working, we reached out to them to see what we could do to change that.”

Kennon is so convinced that this year will be better than the first two years that a grand reopening of the farmers’ market has been scheduled for May 12, a week after the actual opening.

A press release about the reopening says North Pulaski Farms, Barnhill Farms, Laughing Stock Farms, Hardin Farms and Friends of the Earth are among the growers who have committed to bringing their produce to the market.

Shoppers can expect to find seven different types of potatoes, flowers, grape tomatoes, cabbage, onions, hanging basket, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries and grains.

Kennon said artists and crafters are also welcome. Homemade baked goods, cheeses, marinades, honey and jams and jellies may also be available, she said.

When the market first opened, growers also objected to the fact that they couldn’t get their trucks into the pavilion. That problem has been solved, Kennon said. But sellers may also set up tents and sell from their trucks beside the pavilion.

“We’re hoping this will be our best year,” she said.

The cost to sell at the market is $25 for the whole season. Sellers may pick up a complete list of rules and regulations at the Jacksonville Community Center, the Martin Street Youth Center or get it online at

The Cabot Farmers Market will start its fifth season in the First Security Bank parking lot downtown and organizers say because of the early growing season they expect this year’s market to be a good one.

The market will be open from 8 a.m. until noon every Saturday until Oct. 27.