Farmers Market entering fourth year

Chaela Krueger, Staff Reporter

The 18th Street Farmers Market kicks off from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday in the parking lot of the Coles County Health Department at 825 18th St.

Every Saturday until Sept. 30, anyone can enjoy fresh local produce, handmade items, arts and crafts, live music and more.

Then, starting Saturday, June 3, a fitness instructor will offer lessons in yoga, belly dancing and jazzercise.

Steve Runyon, the market manager, said he hopes to bring back “chef at the market,” where a local chef will provide free samples and cooking demonstrations to show attendees what can be done with fresh produce.

For the fourth year in a row, Runyon said he has been trying to grow the sense of community within the Charleston area through the farmers market.

Runyon said the market is great for the whole family and is a festive environment to be a part of.

Tunes of jazz, blues, folk, Americana and other live music from local groups will be heard throughout the market, while children can enjoy activities such as coloring and reading books provided by the Charleston Carnegie Public Library.

“The music helps create that atmosphere of being very festive and very friendly,” Runyon said.

Owen Sweitzer, co-owner of First Fruits Homestead, said they are looking forward to participating in this summer’s farmers markets.

Their farm grows around 180 types of vegetables, which will be available Saturday.

“We founded the whole organization for that community aspect—to be able to take the time to be around different people and enjoy the food,” Sweitzer said.

He said part of First Fruit’s mission is to use food as a source of community. They use farmer’s markets to help advertise their organization and educate people about the value of eating local.

“There is absolutely a big aspect to eating locally and knowing the farmer and understanding where the food comes from,” Sweitzer said.

Runyon said the farmers market will typically start with 12-15 vendors the first Saturday and keep growing as more produce becomes available.

He said he is always looking for volunteers to help out during the set-up process to showcase their musical talents during live music time slots. He can be contacted at (217) 345-4700.

“If I can get students interested in coming, we would absolutely welcome music appropriate for the market,” Runyon said.

To find more information about the farmers market, visit its Facebook page at

          Chaela Krueger can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]