18th Street Farmer’s Market starts its 5th year

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

The 18th Street Farmer’s Market kicked off its fifth season Saturday in the parking lot of the Coles County Health Department.

Steve Runyon, the volunteer market manager, said the farmer’s market is intended to serve the community.

Runyon said at first they were concerned the rain on Saturday might stop the market from opening but a clear morning brought 13 vendors to set up tents and sell their goods.

He said it is not uncommon to have fewer vendors and a small crowd during the first couple weeks of the season, but as the weeks progress there will be about 20 to 22 vendors and over 100 people coming through the market during the four hours its open.

There are also several additions to the market this year including the Jackson Avenue Coffee shop selling coffee and the Charleston High School Future Farmers of America students selling plants as a way to fundraise for their group.

Runyon said individuals with debit cards, credit cards and now those with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can use their cards to purchase “market bucks” that can only be used as a form of payment at the market.

“Whatever we can do to help the community (we do),” Runyon said. “That’s what this is all about. A community event for a Saturday morning that attracts everybody from young kids and families to senior citizens.”

And on the first Saturday of each month, Runyon said those who have SNAP cards can get up to an additional $10 dollars in what is called “Double Value Day.”

“Buy $10 (worth of market bucks) we’ll give you $20, buy $20 we’ll give you $30,” Runyon said. “It makes the market much more inclusive.”

The market runs from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday until September and aside from vendors selling goods, people can listen to live music, participate in Yoga and learn how to cook from local chefs.

“I think it’s very important for the Charleston community to have a community event on a Saturday morning that’s open to everybody in the community,” he said.

Analicia Haynes can be used at 581-2812 or [email protected].