Mansfield Living

Farmers market on the move

Fresh fruit and vegetables glow in the sunshine at the Mansfield Farmers Market.
Fresh fruit and vegetables glow in the sunshine at the Mansfield Farmers Market. File photo

The Mansfield Farmers Market heads back to a new home for its 14th summer, with vendors and organizers hoping they bring their current customers and attract even more.

After four years in a parking lot at the corner of Smith and Oak streets, the market will open Saturday at a new location, in the Dollar General parking lot at 703 E. Broad St.

“I was told the city is getting ready to do something with the property (on Smith Street) and I didn’t want to start the market and have to move in the middle of the season,” said Rex Wenger, the market manager.

The new space, at the intersection of East Broad Street and North Walnut Creek Drive, will be more visible than the market’s former home, tucked a block off Main Street, Wenger said, and he’s hoping that helps grow the farmers market.

Kendra Myers, who has been selling her jams, jellies, pickles and spices at the market for the past four summers, sees great possibilities for the new spot, which is next to Utopia Fitness and Eterna Health Food Store.

“I think people are going to be confused the first few weeks,” she said. “They are going to have signs at the old market, so hopefully people will read them.

“This is at the intersection of two busy streets, and it’s in the parking lot of a health food store,” Myers said. “Those are our customers. Everybody who goes to the gym is trying to eat healthy.”

When Myers opened her Kendra’s Kreations booth at the Mansfield market, there were only about 10 booths and handfuls of faithful customers. Those customers have remained and more have followed, with the market drawing about 300 visitors per week last year.

Pam Comeau, who has been selling her handcrafted soap at the market for four years, says the local vendors attract a loyal following.

“The Mansfield Farmers Market is quickly becoming a local Saturday morning tradition, a fun place for fellowship, shopping local and starting your weekend off right,” she said. “Visit with your local farmers and artisans, listen to local music, take a class, partake of the diverse food offerings. There is always something of interest at the Mansfield market.”

For opening weekend this Saturday, the market is putting on a show, with three food trucks -- The Virgin Olive, Pokey O’s and Dough Boy Donuts -- a free gardening class at 10 a.m., cooking demonstration at 11:30 a.m., the Mansfield Animal Care’s mobile adoption trailer and live music. Local favorites Scott & Steve will perform from 9 a.m.-noon, followed by Dennis Webb from noon-1 p.m.

And the parking lot will be lined with vendors, 37 have signed up, ranging from meat to baked cooks and hand-crafters. Four fresh meat vendors offering lamb, beef, poultry and sausage are expected, as are four produce sellers.

This will not be the first move for the Mansfield Farmers Market, which opened in 2004. The market started in the parking lot on East Broad Street, just east of Mellow Mushroom, 101 S. Main St. A year before the pizzeria opened in 2014, the market headed a couple of blocks south to the parking lot of the former New Beginnings Church, 203 Smith St. With construction planned on the Pond Branch linear trail for that site, the market needed to find a new home. The Wesley Mission Center, which is also planning a move to the Dollar General/Utopia Fitness site, offered the farmers market its parking lot.

Mansfield Farmers Market

8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 28

703 E. Broad St.