Ditch the cart

Ditch the cart

Downtown Troy Farmers’ Market, a different grocery shopping experience

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Blue Jacket Cheese sets up shop at the Downtown Troy Farmers’ Market

The world moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller may have been talking about cutting class, but his words ring true throughout the modern world. Small communities once relied on local merchants and farmers to provide goods and services, but that changed as the tides of commerce shifted to supermarkets and department stores. As the world moved faster, we sacrificed communal connection for saving a few moments.

However, a curious trend has been building in recent years. Supermarkets still draw large profits, but more and more shoppers look for a different type of grocery experience. Eating healthy, locally-sourced produce has become all the rage.

And farmers’ markets are there to fulfill that need.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers’ markets has increased from about 5,000 in 2008 to more than 8,000 in 2013. Karin Manovich, executive director of Troy Main Street said there are several reasons for this growing culture.

“I think, from a health standpoint, patronizing farmer’s markets makes sense,” Manovich said. “It also supports the local economy and keeps money in a local economy, which eventually comes back to benefit the people who live there. Our farmers’ market includes not only farmers, but local producers of food and art events.”

While Troy did not invent the concept of these types of venues, the city does seem intent on making its version the absolute best it can be. Manovich said visits to other markets, both locally and all over the country, helped forge a clearer vision of what they hoped Troy’s would ultimately become.

This marks the fourth year Troy has offered this service to their community, and Jessie Rankinen has been there for three. She began as an unpaid intern, but she was promoted to full-time when the market manager couldn’t return before her second year.

Obviously, it was a big step up in responsibilities.

“I went from just helping deliver marketing materials and being there to help out on the market days to being the point person of making this market successful,” Rankinen said. “In addition, my relationships with the farmers and their families have grown tremendously.”

Rankinen said the market has seen interest grow in both attendees and vendors, with the booths consistently filled near capacity. Of the 40 or so vendors, only a handful makes it every week. It allows more sellers to take part, and it keeps the options fresh for repeat customers.

While trips to the grocery can get a bit cumbersome, the farmers’ market offers more than just produce.

“The Downtown Troy Farmers Market has one of the greatest atmospheres around,” Rankinen said. “It is located in the historic downtown of Troy right on Cherry Street between Main and Franklin. You will find vendors selling their produced, baked goods and handmade pieces right off their vehicles, hear the lovely sounds of a local musician and smell the fresh air of the summer. Plus, the vendors and customers are some of the friendliest around. I can’t image a better place to be on a Saturday morning.”

Ventures such as this are certainly commerce driven. Merchants come to make money and patrons come to buy goods. However, the byproduct of this nostalgic way of stocking ones cupboards is building an even stronger community. It harkens back to a time when the person behind a store counter was more than just a nameless provider of necessities.

“If people are spending money, they want to have fun doing it,” Manovich said. “In talking to the individual vendors of the market, you’re talking to the person who actually grew the food, who baked the food – you’re hearing their story. A lot of people have become friends with the vendors and the vendors have become friends with each other.”

In addition to giving patrons of the market a unique shopping experience, it also allows the city of Troy to showcase the best of their downtown.

“It’s kind of an extension of the downtown,” Manovich said. “We’re promoting our own brick-and-mortar merchants by bringing these portable merchants, so to speak, into the downtown to create an expansion of what exists here.”

And Troy has embraced the concept wholeheartedly.

“The people of Troy are some of the friendliest and most supportive around,” Rankinen said. “So many people come down to support the market and the downtown businesses of Troy, including many officials of the city, on Saturday mornings. You can actually usually catch Mayor Beamish and his wife volunteering their time picking up trash along Cherry Street on Saturday mornings in order to get the street ready for the market. Not to mention, we have great volunteers that donate numerous hours to help out set up and tear down the market. Without the support from all these community members the market would not exist.”

The Troy Farmer’s Market will be open f 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday from June 14 until Sept. 13. It is located in downtown Troy on Cherry Street between Main and Franklin. For more information, please visit troymainstreet.org/farmers_market.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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