Permanent farmer’s market ideas take off

By Marissa Novel

More than one hundred community members packed the Carbondale Civic Center July 3 to voice their ideas about a year-round farmers market.

The attendance exceeded the city’s expectations, as people were left standing until another room was opened and more chairs were brought in.

Fidel Delgado, an architect from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, began his presentation explaining the sustainability benefits of year-round farmer’s markets for communities. Delgado provided examples of layout plans of his previous projects as well as other facilities which would fit Carbondale’s needs.


The facilities could include canopy options, accessible parking, room for outdoor recreation and event stages. Almost all of the examples featured a location in an accessible downtown area.

Many people said they were in favor of making space for outdoor recreation to provide the market with more space for social activities, especially on Saturday mornings of the farmer’s market.

D. Gorton Adams, a Carbondale resident, said there is a farmer’s market in Durango, Colo., which he and his wife, City Councilwoman Jane Adams, visited which features a commercial kitchen. Adams said the kitchen gives organizations opportunities to lease the space and cater events for large numbers of people, which eventually generates revenue for the county.

Adams said the commercial kitchen would be up to code with the health department, making it easier for farmers and producers to cook and create new products that would have been difficult otherwise.

“What you’re looking for is not just a farmer’s market but a community market,” Adams said.

Gary Williams, Carbondale’s Economic Development Coordinator, said a permanent farmer’s market could strengthen the southern Illinois region and generate more revenue for the Carbondale economy.

Williams said the facility could be used for other public events, such as car shows, antique shows, or reunions, which could attract people to the Carbondale area.


“For the city, it would just allow a much better opportunity to bring people into the community,” Williams said. “And I think there would be spillovers from that that would be beneficial to both consumers and producers”

There are currently two farmer’s markets in Carbondale, but neither of them have a space specific to fill its needs.

The Carbondale Farmer’s Market is on the west side of the city held at the Westtown Mall parking lot. The east location is the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market that is held in the Carbondale Community High School parking lot.

The people at the July 3 meeting said the two different locations make it hard on both farmers and consumers to attend both markets which are typically held on the same date and time.

Terry Hickey, a medicinal botanical vendor at the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market, said she has considered doing both markets, but found it to be very difficult.

“I really like the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market, I have a following there. It’s just hard to do both,” she said. “You need to place the people and the set up and the products. It makes it very difficult.”

Hickey also said she would love to see a permanent farmer’s market in the downtown area before building plans have begun.

The next farmer’s market will be held at both locations Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3311 ext. 257.