Summer in Northeast Ohio is nothing if not well-earned. Anticipation builds throughout our unpredictable spring as we wait to be rid of heavy layers, driving misery, and the roulette wheel of the snow day. Rivaling the excitement of flip flops, pool days, and three months without packing lunches is the advent of the sensory feast that is the farmers market season. While our area is home to a plethora of these bazaars, visitors to the markets in Hudson and Kamm’s Corners will enjoy a special treat this season—the 10th anniversary celebrations of enterprises that have become mainstays of local commerce and community building in their neighborhoods.
Saturday mornings in Hudson bring a warm breeze through crisp white tents as vendors on the town green display their wares—ripe red tomatoes, milky sweet corn, delicately filled crêpes. After purchasing a cup of hot locally brewed coffee, patrons can be found sampling produce, enjoying a breakfast burrito, and visiting with friends while children watch a balloon artist or listen to a story read by the local bookseller.
“People come to the market to look for each other, not only to shop,” says Michelle Lazor, president of the market’s board of directors. “It’s become a meeting place for friends and neighbors.” Beginning with 25 vendors as a project for a Leadership Hudson class in 2007, the 2016 market boasts a total of 45 vendors and expects 1,500 weekly visitors.
Several events and activities are planned in honor of the market’s decade in business, including a Kids Day, cooking demonstrations from Hudson’s Restaurant, and a cake-filled birthday party on July 9.
Following a 2014 win in the National Farmers Market Poster Contest, the market will offer 10th anniversary posters and t-shirts designed by local artist Andy Taray of Ohioboy Art & Design.
Tickets are also on sale for a farm-to-table dinner to be held at Thaxton’s Organic Garlic Farm on Sept. 23. Owner Fred Thaxton has been a vendor since the first season, and credits the market with expanding his business and connecting him with the region’s restaurant community.
“We were happy that people wanted our product,” says Thaxton. “The market introduced our product to local chefs—we all like good, quality food, and care for the earth. We would not have met as many great people in the food business without the market.”
On Cleveland’s west side, the Kamm’s Corners Farmers Market serves patrons every Sunday from June to October. Located in the area’s commercial district at Lorain Avenue and Rocky River Drive, the market began with six vendors at the request of local residents to the neighborhood’s community development corporation. The 2016 season anticipates 25 vendors and upwards of 1,000 weekly visitors.
Market manager Bill Markowitz describes the weekly events as a town meeting place, with tables provided to allow visitors to sit and visit while enjoying produce and prepared foods, and listening to local and nationally known musicians.
“The residents love what we’ve got,” says Markowitz. “Vendors really like the market because it’s friendly. People come by to do more than just buy things.”
Produce vendor and Kamm’s Corners resident Tom White, of White Family Farms, has been with the market since its inception and values its community atmosphere.
“It’s close and personal,” says White. “The people who come to the stand I either know or I know their sister or brother. It’s community.”
The Kamm’s Corners Market, which has been voted Best Farmers Market by Scene Magazine and Best of the West by Cleveland Magazine, also welcomes local artisans offering paintings, jewelry, and clothing, along with weekly chef demonstrations using market ingredients.
A healthy living outreach stand is also a frequent option, with local hospitals and health facilities providing complimentary services, such as blood pressure screening, fitness demonstrations, and chair massages. The market’s 10th anniversary will be a season-long celebration.