There is a great debate on social media about which grocery store has the freshest produce. With all of the pesticides, chemicals and GMOs these days it is sometimes difficult to determine a winner.
Parts of Bloomington-Normal are even considered food deserts, which means there are areas of the towns where residents are facing difficulties when it comes to buying affordable or good-quality fresh food.
But, every Saturday the Downtown Bloomington Association hosts a Farmers Market that allows the community to connect with local farmers and artisans while shopping for what is arguably the freshest produce in the area and it’s grown right here in Bloomington.
The market is a producer-only market that offers a wide array of farm products like vegetables, fruits, cheeses, pork, beef, free-range poultry and eggs, flowers, plants and herbs among a number of other products.
The market has been under professional management since 1997 and is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year.
The Museum Square in downtown Bloomington has been the market’s home since 2001 which includes nearly 35 vendors per week. They even feature local entertainment to add to the ambiance and again, support local business. The market is in the midst of its peak season and averages nearly 5,000 customers at each market.
Catherine Dunlap has been the Farmers Market Manager and Coordinator for the past 5 seasons. Growing up on a farm herself, Dunlap has always had a love for helping farmers.
“When you buy locally it provides an opportunity for the money to circle back through the economy which can help the community grow,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap takes pride in the community that the market creates. Her favorite part about being involved in the market is the people. From the local farmers and artisans to the regular customers, the market provides an opportunity to forge relationships with the people who grow, create and make the products sold at the market.
The market also features cooking demos where the farmers interact with the customers by teaching them how to prepare certain vegetables or sharing recipes of their own. Dunlap added that the farmers are also very responsive to explore new options of produce and products suggested by customers.
Aside from the typical produce, Dunlap also mentioned that they feature two Hispanic bakers and a Greek baker to add “variety and flare” to the options.
The market is always looking for volunteers. Dunlap encourages anyone who is interested in getting involved to contact her at email@example.com. Those interested can also follow the market on all social media to keep up with new produce and products or the next live entertainment at Downtown Bloomington via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The market runs outdoors from 7:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday until the end of October and even continues throughout the colder season with an indoor market.