With more than 15 farmers markets thriving across the region from Lansing to LaPorte, they have become a warm-weather tradition.
Vendors say the markets are profitable and a fun way to showcase their products, forge friendships, network and gain new customers.
Rhonda Bloch, owner of Tiffany’s Tea Room & Café in Crown Point, has been a vendor for 10 years, participating in all the Northwest Indiana farmers markets.
“It is a great income even though it is only a short season from May to October,” Bloch said. “If we could do it all year-round, we wouldn’t need another job.”
Bloch sells artisan breads and homemade desserts from Tiffany’s Tea Room. This year she is introducing 20 types of organic coffee from Sip Coffee House, which she also owns.
Bloch does not pre-price her items.
“I talk to people, telling them about my product and business,” Bloch said.
“What I like most is to go one-on-one rather than say here is the price, buy it or not.”
Bloch said participation has built her restaurant and coffee house client base.
A Crown Point market vendor for 15 years, Linda Ebert, owner of LE Garden, sells a large variety of flowers and herb plants and many varieties of seasonal vegetables, including corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash.
“The markets are too much work to do them without making a profit,” said Ebert, who sells at two markets weekly.
However, her main income source, Ebert said, is a 74-member community supported agriculture group.
“We are not getting rich from farming, but I love growing things and making people happy with what we grow,” Ebert said. “I love getting to know the people that buy what we grow, and finding out what they do with the plants and produce they buy from us.”
George Domazet, owner of Good Kettle Corn Co., said the market is a profitable supplement to his sales plus an excellent venue for building clients and making connections regarding other craft shows and festivals.
Domazet sells several varieties of caramel kettle corn and fresh-pressed lemonade including sangria, peach and pomegranate flavors.
“I love what I am doing and giving people a product they enjoy,” Domazet said. “I have a little fan club that follows me from event to event because we have the best kettle corn in the area.
“We don’t go to be rich, we go to meet people,” Domazet said. “It is fun to do. I hope Crown Point continues the tradition.”