Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Picture this: It’s the third Saturday in January and it’s snowing. Again. It’s been frigid all week and you’re suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. To make matters worse, that beef you were planning on cooking for supper mysteriously disappeared. Then you realize your salvation is at hand because the Culver Winter Farmers’ Market is today. Five minutes later, you’re walking out the door with a smile on your face.
The market is held on the ground level of the Culver-Union Township Public Library. Despite Jack Frost’s bluster, the atmosphere inside the library is positively sunny, especially since everyone is smiling and chatting with each other.
There’s a vast array of products – micro-greens and other fresh produce, locally-raised meats, baked goods of all types, locally-made crafts, high-end silversmith and other custom jewelry, hand-crafted wood products, custom services, soaps and artisan chocolates.
This is only the second season of the winter market, but its success has already been astronomical. When Chad Gard, market manager, considered starting a wintertime market he spoke with Tracy Fox, marketing coordinator for the Culver Farmers’ Market. Once she was on board, they found a spot for it and spoke to potential vendors.
“I thought it would take years to really ramp up into anything of much value, but that first season the biggest struggle I had was trying to figure out how to fit everyone in the room,” Gard says.
For that reason, Gard and Fox coordinated with library leaders to hold the 2019-2020 winter market in their facility.
“The space we’re in this year is bigger, but it’s still a struggle to fit all the vendors into the room because there’s that much interest,” Gard says.
Considering the camaraderie among those involved with the farmers’ market – not only the winter market but also the outdoor markets Culver holds throughout the year – that interest is hardly a surprise.
“When I talk to people, they just like the connection of knowing where their food or craft was produced, grown or made,” Fox says. “It’s that local touch point. Culver is like any other small, northern Indiana town. It gets cold, it gets dreary, it gets grey in the winter. So we have a place where you walk in and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, this town is alive!’ There’s stuff going on. People are engaging. They’re able to get out of their house and have a purpose.”
The vendors also contribute to the camaraderie.
“Our vendors are very much interested in the community of the farmers’ market,” explains Gard, who is also a regular vendor. “There’s a genuine, warm community there. The vendors want to see each other, and want to see the customers. The customers want to see the vendors and the other customers. They’re coming to connect with each other and the community.”
The Culver Winter Farmers’ Market is located inside the Culver-Union Township Public Library at 107 North Main Street, and takes place on the first, third and fifth Saturdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m from now through April. For more info go to facebook.com/CulverFarmersMarket or call 574-968-7638.