Jo Ellen Davis

Jo Ellen Davis

Manager – Goshen Farmers Market

Published Feb. 2024

Goshen Farmers Market Celebrates 25 Years

Davis discusses growth, longevity, and programs that help the Goshen Farmers Market stand out from the pack

I’m glad to be a part of the 25th anniversary of the Goshen Farmers Market. I’ve been at the market for 10 years, and I think it is important—and unique—for a lot of reasons.

First of all, it’s important to have a local, farmers market because people should have access to local food that’s grown where they live. People should be connected to the food they eat and they should know about where, and how, it was grown.

The Goshen Farmers Market is also a place where a lot of local small buisnesses have a chance to get their start. We’ve had former vendors like Vi Miller’s Baked by Vi—which now operates out of a storefront in New Paris—that got started with us at the Goshen farmers Market, and it’s always rewarding to see small businesses that started with us be able to take that next step.

Being indoors comes with advantages

We are part of the Community Sustainability Project. We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit located in the historic Mill Race Center at 212 West Washington Street, off the Mill Race Trail. We are one of the only year-round farmers markets in Elkhart County, and I think being an indoors market has helped us solidify our position as a staple in the community.

We are open year-round on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Tuesdays, from May to October, we also have open hours from 3-7 p.m. On our market days it’s such a blessing to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together to see friends, shop local, and listen to live music. We have approximately 25-32 weekly vendors, depending on the season, and we serve as many as 50 vendors throughout the course of each year to help them sell their locally grown or homemade goods to the Elkhart County community.

Longtime local vendors bring stability

We focus mainly on vendors within 150 miles of Goshen, including those who grow local produce, flowers, and bedding plants; those who prepare baked goods, ready to eat foods, and jams and jellies; and those who create artisan items—and we are grateful to be able to offer our community access to such an array of local foods and produce and handmade artisan items.

Another great thing about the Goshen Farmers Market is that many of our farmers have been with us since the start, including Creekside Farm, White Yarrow Farm, Sustainable Greens, and Fish Lake Organic Berry Patch.

To have long-standing vendors like those four operations has really helped strengthen our foundation within the community, and we’re so thankful for the longtime vendors who have stuck with us all these years.

Goshen Farmers Market
Goods from Creekside Farm
Produce from the Goshen Farmers Market
Goshen Farmers Market

The Goshen Farmers Market is open year-round and offers local foods, produce, and handmade artisan items made within 150 miles of Goshen. Longtime vendors like Creekside Farm, White Yarrow Farm, Sustainable Greens, and Fish Lake Organic Berry Patch, along with innovative and unique food programs, have helped the Goshen Farmers Market—celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024—become a staple of the Elkhart County community.

Unique programs a key to the market’s recipe

Another thing that makes the Goshen Farmers Market pretty special, I think, is that we have a lot of programs intended to encourage people to shop with us and support our vendors. With the help of the Community Sustainability Project we are able to offer a variety of programs to help support food access in our community.

We have the Double Up program that allows people to redeem SNAP benefits at the front desk for tokens they can use to buy things at the market, and thanks to the Double Up program we can match up to $20 worth of funds for fruits and vegetables per market day. We are also able to match an additiopnal $20 per market day from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County to support local food and encourage healthy eating, so this program goes a very long way in terms of helping families who need it most.

We also have our Sprouts Kids Club on Tuesdays from May through October. This is sponsored by Goshen Health. Kids get two $1 tokens and farmers prepare $1 cup specials to encourage youngsters to eat healthy, try new things, and support local farmers. We also have a Fresh Food Therapy program, and we offer a CSA from May through December.

Personal favorites, personal rewards

Some of my personal all-time favorites at the market are the apple cider from Creekside Farm and the cheeses from The Wedge. The Wedge is operated by Rachel Shenk, who was involved with us for so many years—and in the Goshen community, in general—with Rachel’s Bread.

Another thing that makes the Goshen Farmers Market pretty unique is that we feature the work and artists of the Goshen Clay Artists Guild. The guild is on our property, and there are so many great clay artists in Goshen who contribute such amazing work. We’re proud to present and showcase their work at the market.

There is so much to be proud of as the manager for the Goshen Farmers Market, but the best thing is being there on a busy market day and knowing I play a part in bringing the community together. Part of the reward is knowing that every year we’ll see new small businesses apply as vendors, and we’ll provide them the opportunity to become staples of the Elkhart County community as well.

The mission of the Goshen Farmers Market—located in the historic Mill Race Center, at 212 W. Washington St.—is to create a viable space for the sale of locally-grown and crafted products in order to promote and provide education towards agricultural, environmental, economic, and community sustainability. The market is open year-round on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Tuesdays (May through October) from 3-7 p.m. To learn more, visit https://www.goshenfarmersmarket.org/.

Written by Jake Sandock

Photos courtesy of the Goshen Farmers Market