Farmers Market going strong into fall

September 4, 2018

We’re at that special time of the year that is in-between seasons, meaning there’s a lot to see at the Columbus Farmers Market, held from 7:30 a.m. to noon each Saturday through October in Frankfort Square.

Shirley Engquist, organizer of the farmers market for the past 10 years, said produce vendors currently have a nice variety of everything from sweet corn to melons, berries and even a few pumpkins.

“The farmers market is a great way to get local homemade, homegrown and unique items and crafts,” Engquist said.

Actually, that’s a requirement for selling at the market. No store-bought items, just hand-made or home grown, she noted.

Even with the overnight storms, looming clouds and the Labor Day holiday weekend, the market had about 15 booths set up Saturday morning. Some items don’t handle rain very well, so on bad weather days, the market will mostly have produce.

From year-to-year it’s hard to know what type of produce you’ll get and when you’ll get it, because Mother Nature calls the shots. Overall, Engquist said the season has been good, with produce coming in a bit late and the season being extended due to the weather.

Becky Cheloha, who has been selling produce and other items at the market for 32 years, said there are several seasonal peaks for the farmers market. There are early crops as the market is getting started, and the later cool weather crops are coming in now.

“Right now is a great time to purchase fresh berries, and pumpkins will be here early this month,” she said.

And the market isn’t just for produce, though that’s a big draw. There are vendors selling cards, wooden items, fresh flowers, plants, baked goods, Husker items and crafts. Susan Holub, a baked goods and fresh egg vendor, has been coming to the market for the past 20 years. She sells out of eggs pretty quickly, but also has a nice variety of kolaches and baked breads available.

“The best thing about the market is that people are like family,” Holub said. “The people are very nice, and if you don’t see someone for a while, you start to worry about them.”

One thing to look forward to is the arrival of pumpkins. Engquist said there are usually three to five farmers who bring pumpkins and gourds annually. A few pumpkins have already arrived and the season will be full blown in a week or two. Cheloha enlists the help of her entire family during pumpkin season, which includes several generations of helpers.

For those looking to sell items at the market, Engquist noted that “it’s a good way to put your stuff out there in the community.” She said she likes to meet with new vendors to talk about their product, get to know them and go over how selling as a co-op works.

Lou Kresha of Osceola started selling cut flowers at the Columbus Farmers Market about five years ago as an experiment. It went so well, she’s been coming ever since. She’s seen her business increase each year and has regulars who come specifically for her flowers.

It’s not too late to come and check out the farmers market, as it still has about eight weeks to go.

“It’s just a unique place to see things and to visit with the vendors,” Engquist said.

Those interested in selling items at the marked are encouraged to contact Engquist at 402-910-6205.

Linda Briley is a news clerk for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at linda.briley@lee.net.

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