Sparta Farmers Market finds permanent home after 25 years
Though they may not have always been easy to find, growers in the Sparta area have been gathering on a weekly basis during the summer months, offering fresh produce to their fellow community members.
Over the last quarter century, the Sparta Farmers Market has set up shop in the at the former Cowboy Village parking lot (now the Morrow Home parking lot), on the courthouse lawn, in the greenspace across from the Market Tavern and at the Butterfest grounds.
“It’s like some curse is on the Sparta Farmers Market,” joked Joey Esterline, who helped found the market.
In 2012, City of Sparta staff invited the farmers market to relocate in the downtown community by offering them a space in the library parking lot. Though the following two summers were challenging, with major construction projects in the Water Street area, the group persevered – and it has paid off.
As development of a downtown greenspace progressed and a tiny German ‘Kriskindlmarkt’ village emerged, so did a new opportunity for the farmers market.
After organizing themselves as an official nonprofit organization, they were able to take advantage of grants offered through the city, landing themselves in the recently-designated Mueller Square.
Not only that, but they have a new name as well: the Beaver Creek Farmers Market.
Weather permitting, the downtown park will have new pavers, a new stage, lighting, concrete work and electrical hook-ups in each of the small houses by the beginning of the summer.
Esterline says that since they group became official, it has also gained more direction and planned events, including cooking demonstrations by local chefs and monthly kids days.
“I’ve seen the transition from people trying to get cheap food – I mean that was why people came at first; getting good food was secondary – to now seeing people coming there to get quality, local-grown, ‘I-know-where-my-food-came-from’ produce,” Esterline said.
“We wanted children included, because someday when they grow up, they’re going to take over,” added Beaver Creek Farmers Market President Lisa Gaunky, noting that education has become a large component of the market.
This summer’s market kicks off on Saturday, May 20, and is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The season closes Oct. 21.
Whether you’re interested in vegetable, fresh-cut flowers, homemade jellies or jams, the market is sure to have something for everyone to go hand-in-hand with its natural sense of community.
“There’s nothing more wonderful than having someone come back to you and say ‘that’s the best garlic I’ve ever eaten!’ – that’s like the million-dollar ticket,” Esterline said.