Some people are morning people, even on the weekends: They might like, for example, getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays to head down to their local farmers’ market. WYSO listener Gabrielle Civil is not one of those people. She lives in Yellow Springs, where the farmers’ market runs from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. And she had a question about that:
This is WYSO Curious and my question is, why so early? Why is the farmers’ market over by noon?
I’m not a morning person, so I didn’t judge Gabrielle Civil when I spoke to her about about missing out on the Yellow Springs Farmers Market. Nonetheless, she was slightly embarrassed by the notoriety of her WYSO Curious question, which was in heavy rotation on our airwaves this past winter and spring.
“If I’d have known that would have been one of the sound bytes that would be circulating in the Miami Valley I probably would have come up with ‘why don’t we have world peace?’” Gabrielle said. But she said she asked about it “because I’ve heard these legendary stories about the Yellow Springs Farmers Market, that if you get there at 7 a.m. there are throngs of people, people you never see at any other time who are standing in line for croissants that are small-batched in from Cincinnati.”
She was worried she was missing out on something magical. “I guess if I was willing to be there at seven o’clock in the morning I could find out, but Friday night is, you know...a night to be out.”
I can empathize. I’ve lived in Yellow Springs for twenty years, and I’ve never been to the farmers’ market. Frankly, it happens too early for me. But since I had a job to do, I set my alarm for 6 a.m. on a Saturday, and set out to answer Gabrielle’s question.
The Yellow Springs Farmers Market is located in the parking lot of a group of downtown shops known as Kings Yard. I arrived just after sunrise and people were already lined up at several vendors, including Blue Oven Bakery of Cincinnati—the stand that sells the legendary croissants Gabrielle talked about.
Baker Charles Hanson said he sells Blue Oven Bakery goods at many area markets, and the Yellow Springs Farmers Market is early by comparison.
“This farmers’ market is the earliest we do, and personally I spend the night at the bakery just to do it,” he said. But he said it’s worth the trouble—he always sells out. “It’s crazy, and trust me, there’s a nap involved in my day after this.”
But does The Yellow Springs Farmers Market take place unusually early? Just for example, both the Troy Riverfront Market and Trotwood Farmers Markets run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Springfield’s Saturday market also starts at 9 a.m., but ends at 12:30 p.m. And plenty of markets, including a separate one in Yellow Springs, take place on weekday evenings.
For a professional opinion, I consulted Christie Welch, a farmers’ market specialist at The Ohio State University. She said there’s really no consensus on the best time for a farmers’ market.
“It really depends on the location, and what’s going to be most beneficial for the consumers and the producers,” she said.
Regardless, farmers’ markets are more popular than ever, especially in Ohio.
“I have seen a tremendous amount of growth of the last several years,” Welch said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets in the United States. That’s an increase of 76 percent since 2008. Ohio is among the states with the most farmers’ markets reported, with 311 active markets today.
But as for our question, why a given farmers’ market might choose to open or close early, Welch concluded it’s really up to the organizers.
Michelle Burns, the organizer for the Yellow Springs Farmers Market, said the reason it closes so early is simple: it’s located a parking lot that belongs to a group of local shops.
“Because they’re running the King’s Yard businesses, they wanted the vendors to be gone by the time that area really started picking up during the day so most of those shops open eleven or twelve, and we’re out of there by then,” Burns said.
Although some have asked Burns to start the farmers’ market later in the day, others find it fits their schedules perfectly.
“I like to get up early and come to market and then you get on with the rest of your day,” said Debra Oswald, leaving the market around 8 a.m. with fellow regular shopper Karen Kimber. “You do have to get here early,” Kimber adds. “Today we didn’t even get greens, because the greens were gone.”
Gabrielle and I will have to decide for ourselves whether we want to sleep in on Saturday morning or enjoy the rich rewards of the Yellow Springs Farmers Market. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose. But the next time I’m up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I promised to pick her up one of those small batch croissants.
WYSO Curious is our series driven by your questions and curiosities about the Miami Valley. Is there something you’ve always wondered about the Miami Valley’s history, people, culture, economy, politics or environment? Send in a question now, and check back to see which questions we’re considering.
Will Davis is a graduate of WYSO's Community Voices program, and now teaches the class for WYSO.