Ranging between five and eight local vendors weekly, Boonville's Farmers’ Market has been in full swing since April 1. Locally-grown produce can be purchased in the Orscheln Farm & Home parking lot on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. The producer-only group of vendors provides the area with an alternative to mass-produced fruits and vegetables, often trucked or flown in from overseas.
"Some of our dealers are specialized in what they offer. Murray's Maters and More, one of our dealers, grows their own blackberries. It's up to individual vendors if the produce they offer is organic. For the most part, it is," said Farmers’ Market Board Chair, Kate Fjell.
Along with Murray's Maters and More, Boonville's vendors include Sharon and Ernie Walther, Jim and Cyndi Puyear, Nicole LaChapell, Lexie Uthlaut, Jason Gerritson and Jim Benner.
Farmers’ markets, by and large, are seasonal. Many may be surprised to learn that market prices are on par, and sometimes cheaper, than what can be found at major retailers. Buyers from chain-retailers are paying not only for what they eat, but for understandable production costs.
"My business statistics students at Seattle University and I have been tracking produce prices in farmers markets for three years. Many people seem to believe that farmers market prices are high. The data gathered by my students allow us to see how farmers market prices actually measure up against the price of comparable produce in grocery stores and food co-operatives. To be sure, the farmers market did not offer the lowest price on every item, but did tend to have the lowest prices for produce in its peak season," said Stacey Jones of Seattle University's Albers School of Business and Economics.
Area residents looking for local produce that are unable to visit Saturday's market can find several varieties of fruits and vegetables at Maupin's Produce – a tent operation that sells out of the Pop Shop parking lot on Main Street. During the week, the stand is manned by December McDonald.
"We've been open since the first week of March. I'm usually set up around 8 or 9 in the morning and don't shut down until mid to late afternoon. Most of what I sell is grown right here in the area," said owner Jason Maupin.
Maupin, though not a producer, does buy his offerings from local producers – namely, those in the nearby Amish communities.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, as of mid-2011, there were 7,175 farmers’ markets operating throughout the U.S. This was a 17 percent increase from 2010.
The Boonville market will not close until the end of October.