It took a few years, a lot of talking and a host of dedicated people working to make it happen, but downtown Lima has a farmers’ market once more.
The weekly market was a staple of the downtown for close to a decade but moved on in 2009. Earlier this year, the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Agribusiness Committee teamed up with Downtown Lima Inc., Allen Soil and Water Conservation District and Activate Allen County and brought the market back.
From now through September, the market will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Trinity Park, corner of Market and Pierce streets, right next door to Trinity United Methodist Church.
The Lima market is a small but growing concern. In its first week, eight vendors came out to sell a range of items, from pepper spread and jellies to baked goods and barbecue. Of course, there are produce merchants selling seasonal fruits and vegetables. Organizer Jane Higbie is hoping more vendors will join in as the summer goes on.
Farmers’ markets play a vital role in communities, both as a tool for economic development and in making the healthy choice the easy choice. And with more than 18,000 people living in what is classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert, Allen County can use the help.
Right now, we have thousands of residents who live in low-income areas where more than 33 percent of the population live farther than one mile away from an affordable food source. That’s a problem, and not just because we believe everyone should experience the joy of a garden-plucked tomato.
A recent Health Needs Assessment of Allen County revealed that 59 percent of adults and 63 percent of youth said they did not consume vegetables on a weekly basis. Seventy-seven percent of Allen County adults are overweight or obese and 32 percent of our youth are overweight or obese. Providing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables by developing partnerships between local farmers and retail locations will increase healthy eating and result in a reduction in overweight or obese individuals.
If you would like to help with the farmers’ market, or would like to become a vendor, contact Jane Higbie at 419-233-0040 ext. 110. To apply, vendors must offer home-grown or homemade items, including produce, herbs, plants, baked goods, flowers, jams, jellies, soaps and candles. For complete guidelines and a registration form, go to www.allenswed.com. The vendor fee is just $25 for the entire season or $5 a week, and includes applicable permits and taxes.