On Saturday, August 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off the 2013 National Farmers Market Week, celebrating farmers markets from around the nation. Milford’s Riverwalk Farmers Market, which is located on North Walnut Street in a section of the beautiful Mispillion Riverwalk, offers fresh produce, locally grown farm products, as well as arts and crafts every Saturday from May to October.
The market began approximately 13 years ago when several downtown merchants decided it would be an interesting addition to the downtown area. The market eventually became part of Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI), and was operated by Jim Cooper for several years before his retirement. During Jim’s oversight, the market expanded to include not only local produce and farm items but arts and crafts as well. Today, the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is operated by a committee of approximately ten members which include vendors, buyers and DMI members.
“The Farmers Market does a couple of thing for our community,” commented Downtown Milford Inc. Director Lee Nelson. “Local vendors have the opportunity to sell to the downtown Milford community while the community has an opportunity to buy local produce from several businesses at once.” Nelson also acknowledged that the Farmers Market on Saturday is very much a communal event where residents interact with each other and businesses.
According to DMI, the Riverwalk Farmers Market has almost doubled in size over the past two years, averaging between 11 and 13 vendors a week in 2011, to now averaging 19 to 22 vendors every Saturday. They have also seen a 25-30% increase in attendance to the market over the same period of time.
The vision of the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market is to provide an opportunity to buy local produce and products; support farm families, agriculture and the environment; preserve Milford’s small town feel; build a sense of community; raise awareness of environment and health issues; and to promote the downtown area as a center of economic activity.
“The market brings people into town on a Saturday and they can visit and support our other downtown businesses,” stated Nelson. “It also adds to the quality of life in Milford and is another unique reason why residents choose to live here.”
Currently, the market has approximately 20 vendors, but has room for between 35 and 40. The committee is always looking for those who want to offer new, unique products. Vendors may still apply to join the Riverwalk Farmer’s Market by visiting www.downtownmilford.org, clicking on the Farmer’s Market link at the top of the page, and then clicking on the Vendor Application link at the bottom of the page. Print the application, complete it and send it to Downtown Milford Inc. at the address provided and it will be forwarded to the Farmers Market Committee for review. The market will remain open until October of this year.