Passion and Pride…
Recently, I went to the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield. It was my first time there and I was pleasantly surprised to find it booming with many vendors and hundreds of customers. As I drove downtown – the market is located on Adams Street between Third and Fifth Avenues – I wondered if parking would be a problem. It was not, even with my arrival just after the market’s opening I was able to park within a block of the festivities.
Having been to many farmers markets over the years, I had a pretty good idea of what I would find at this one, and I wasn’t disappointed. Fresh produce took center stage and was surrounded by baked goods, locally grown flowers and honey from local hives. There were even booths selling hand-shelled nuts and freshly made cheeses. Yes, this was the type of thing I expected to see. What I underestimated, however, was the quality of the goods being sold.
Eggplant and heirloom tomatoes in vibrant colors mingled on tables with bright sunflowers and unpretentious daisies in old-fashioned mason jars. Then there was the mouth-watering aroma of the fresh bread and pastries; decadent and calling my name. My senses were assaulted and I couldn’t have been happier.
Karen Voss, with Voss Farms of Carlyle, Ill., a grower of quality pecans, explained to me that Old Capitol is a “grower’s market”, requiring all of its vendors to grow or make their own goods, without reselling another company’s products. Surely that was part of the reason why everything I saw as I continued my trek through the market seemed extraordinary, and why the vendors were bursting with pride when one of their products was noted by passersby.
Fresh-picked peaches mingled with sun-kissed tomatoes that just begged to be eaten then and there, and a beehive on display in one booth buzzed with excitement, which was mirrored on the faces of the children enthralled with the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with the workers and queen. I stayed clear of that booth, however (a recent run-in with a bee is still a bit too fresh in my mind).
Spying a booth with a publication of which I was familiar, I stopped and spoke for a moment with Amy Andrew of Greenthoughts Garden. Amy, a soapmaker, explained to me that in addition to being a saponifier, she loved to garden. Therefore, she only used natural colorants (herbs, etc.) from her own garden in her soaps, allowing her to combine both of her passions to create one beautiful and extra-special product.
Passion and pride. That’s what all of the vendors at the Old Capitol Farmers Market seemed to have in common – a passion for the job they do, and pride in knowing that what they do is appreciated by their customers. I truly enjoyed my morning at the market and welcome the opportunity to return there soon. Maybe you can check it out too. It’s open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., through October 31.
- Gina Jones
To learn more about Gina, check out her bio.