Life in the Slow Lane: The Garfield Park Farmers Market’s Inaugural Year

This is the last week for outdoor farmers markets. Join Garfield Park Farmers Market on Saturday morning for their Harvest Market celebration!

life-in-the-slow-laneJulia Woody, one of the organizers of the Garfield Park Farmers Market first fell in love with Indiana when she was a student at Indiana University. After spending some post-grad time on the East Coast, she decided to come back home to the Midwest and landed here in Indy 9 years ago. Besides running the market, she is also on the board for the Garfield Park Neighbors Association, and spent several years on the Slow Food Indy board.

We asked Julia to reflect on Garfield Park Farmers Market’s first year, their plans for the future and how the community can get involved.

How did the GPFM come to be?
Around three years ago, Ashley Brooks and I started tossing around the idea of starting a farmers market in Garfield Park. We had both recently moved to the neighborhood, and our interest and experience in the local food movement made it a possibility. We both had a lot going on so it took some time to get the gears turning, but eventually we assembled a group of neighbors, food producers and food advocates to form our advisory board. We’ve been meeting monthly since March of 2015, and that’s where all the decisions were made about who we wanted to be and what we wanted to do.

How has Garfield Park Farmers Market’s first year been?
It’s been a huge success! The neighbors and surrounding community have really come out and supported our vendors week after week. It really shows us that there was a need for fresh local food in our part of the city.

For a new farmers market, what have been the challenges?
The most challenging thing this season has been the rain. We’ve had an exceptional amount of rainy Saturday mornings this summer, and people don’t like to come outside when it’s wet for some reason! Another big challenge is just getting the word out that we’re here. We’ve operated primarily on individual donations this year and don’t have a large advertising budget.

What are your goals for next year?
We wanted to stay fairly small for our first year, until our customer base was more established. Next year we plan to add more vendors and add more market activities like cooking demos and contests for kids.

Are you looking for more community members to be involved with the market? How can they help?
We always need more help! We have a SignUp.com page where people can register to volunteer for markets throughout the season. Visit their webpage for more details.

Why should everyone care about good, clean and fair food for all?
I could write a book trying to answer this question! The short version is that our food system in this country is broken, and most people don’t even know about it.

When you buy from local organic-practice farmers, you not only support the local economy and enable those farmers to continue what they’re doing, you show the world that we all deserve better food choices.

What’s the kitchen tool you can’t do without?
My cast iron skillet, hands down. I use it almost every single day.

Where’s your go-to dinner spot in Indy?
Honestly, with a two-year-old, we don’t go out that much. I like to stay close to home, so most often we go to the Fountain Square area if we go out.

Best ever farmers market find?
There are so many great foods at the markets it’s hard to pick one, but probably the most memorable item I’ve ever found was fresh pawpaws.

If we opened your fridge right now, what’s the first thing we would we see?
I have about 20 pounds of carrots from South Circle Farm in there right now, so that’s pretty hard to miss!

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