Farmers on the Square in Carlisle got a warm — if wet — welcome at their debut Wednesday afternoon.
“People got to eat in all weather,” said Sandra Miller of Newburg Painted Hand Farm. Farmers are used to working in all weather, she added — and they had a promise to consider.
“We kept our word,” Miller said, busy arranging crisp bunches of greens from coolers. “We are bringing Carlisle local, homegrown, natural food.”
Like some of the other farmers present, Miller used to be part of the indoor Carlisle Central Farmers Market a block-and-a-half north, which closed its doors in February. She thinks the new market will thrive, she said, because it is run by the farmers.
“They are professionals in every sense of the word,” Miller said, noting the prior experience some have with successful markets in various areas.
Market hours are from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays from early June until late October, and the brief rain didn’t keep area residents away Wednesday. They showed up with umbrellas and curiosity and, after perusing the wares of about a dozen farms, left with bundles and bunches of fresh produce. The market generated a steady stream of customers up until closing time.
“I bought herbs for a dinner party I’m having, and I’m going to get strawberries for my grandson,” said Carlisle resident Jane Black.
Bonnie Kim, another Carlisle resident, she said she thought a lot of her compatriots would make the new market a revitalizing force in the downtown.
“I think it’s important that these are farm grown,” Kim said of the produce, much of which was noted to have been grown organically. “We like it to be closer to home.”
David Moore came farther, traveling from the Shippensburg area to check out the new market. He has a chef’s degree, he said, and knew what he was looking for.
“Fresh stuff is better,” he said simply. His objective was, “fresh food, farm grown, farm raised,” and although he didn’t know exactly what he would be leaving with, he knew it would be something good.
Produce wasn’t the only offering at the market. Jonas and Judy Stoltzfus of JuJo Acres Farm in Loysville were sitting under a canopy selling “USDA-certified organic grass-fed Limousin beef.”
“We were at the (CCFM) half a dozen times,” Jonas Stoltzfus said, explaining that they showed up for special occasion markets. A friend asked them to join the Farmers on the Square effort, they said, and they thought having the stands outside in a very visible location in front of First Presbyterian Church was a big improvement over CCFM. The church is making the space available to the market for free.
“That was a beautiful market inside, but people would walk right by,” Judy Stoltzfus said, explaining that she often heard that people didn’t realize that market was there.
Her baby on her back, Michelle Elston was selling big, aromatic bouquets of flowers for $6 and $10.
“I think small indulgences are what people need right now,” she said.
A prominently displayed whiteboard explained the origin of the name of Elston’s business, Roots Cut Flower Farm. Titled “I Remember,” the paragraph recounted her memories of selling vegetables and peanut butter blossoms as a child when there was a market on the sidewalk of Hanover Street.
Now that the market is back in the area again, she wrote, gave her a feeling of coming “back to my roots.”