Growers market in full swing
With the Williamsport Grower’s Market in full swing, the sounds of folk music broke through the chatter of the customers busily making their rounds through the market’s vendor stands. Steve and Becky Forman of Beaver Run Farms stood proudly behind their tent covered stand as people rushed over in hopes to purchase their farm-fresh pork products. Fortunately for customers, May has finally arrived and for April Line, the market manager, the Formans and a multitude of other vendors it is officially “peak season” for the market.
Similar to past seasons, the Market will have a map of businesses set up for customers in the rented parking lot. Local growers, artisans and prepared food vendors will come together each week to provide a wide variety of products for those who attend. Line, who can typically be found every Saturday in the Market’s information booth, added that there is also a great social aspect when shopping at the Market.
“It’s a win, win, win. It is not only a business opportunity for some, but is also a social gathering. There are folks who come every week of the year, they are the committed folks. Others come every week in peak season and bring their kids,” said Line. “You see people in the middle of the market just chatting with each other. You get to watch relationships grow.”
The Formans agreed with Line and with fifteen years at the market under their belt, the Forman’s had nothing but positive remarks on the market’s place in the community for both the customers and small businesses.
“We know a lot of customers here on a first name basis because they come every week. They are committed and that makes us want to be committed,” said Steve Forman.
Forman’s wife, Becky Forman, added, “It gives us some credibility, too, when we are here every week. We don’t just come and go, they know we will always be here.”
For small businesses and farms that are credible and consistent like the Formans, the market can create an opportunity for the business to explained as people they might not even know will visit and ask to sell their farm-fresh products in their restaurants, according to the Formans. There is currently a wide variety of vendor products that can be seen as one makes the walk through the stands.
“Well, some vendors come and go but there is always a bit of a waiting list for the right kinds of vendors. If somebody comes in and wants to sell pork, we already have two pork vendors so we are not going to have another one,” said Steve Forman. “If somebody came and said they wanted to bring goat cheese, then there might be a spot for them. Something new that we don’t yet have.”
The businesses that have stands in the market are fortunate, according to the Formans, to have committed customers who can be seen walking through the stands even a 5 degree winter morning. For said committed customers of the market that find themselves purchasing local produce in the freezing temperatures of the winter season, this year the market is proud to offer the Market Membership Program.
“If you pay $75, you are a member for the year. Once you’re a member you receive discounts at whatever stands agree to offer them, $10 in market cash tokens, and a free market mug and tote bag,” said Line. “In the fall we will throw in a market meal, which will be a dinner for members made up of ingredients from the market’s businesses.”
This new program, once implemented, will allow the market to offset the expenses to run it while also giving benefits to those who find themselves purchasing goods from the stands every week of the year. Currently, according to Line, only a couple of stands have agreed to offer discounts, but she hopes for more to hop on board as peak season gets rolling.
The market is located on the corner of Little League Boulevard and Hepburn Street. The market will officially be open and ready for business from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Saturday.
“There is so much energy and life source,” said Line. “It is such a blessing to have it as a part of the community.”