Popular farmers market getting back up to speed

BY CONNIE LEONARD | WAVE 3 News

As we move closer back to life before the pandemic, area farmers’ markets are celebrating. That’s the case for one of the largest and most popular in the region, the Douglass Loop Farmers Market in the Highlands.

While precautions are still being taken, like vendors being spaced out for safety, the market is starting to look more like it was meant to be when it began 11 years ago.

“I sell native perennials,” vendor Fred Holden, of Holden Farm, said.

From wild ginger to 17 varieties of garlic, Holden’s fresh farm products are sought out every Saturday by area chefs at the Douglass Loop Farmers Market.

“It just has a good attitude and a good philosophy about it,” Holden said.

While Holden sells throughout the Commonwealth, this Saturday market stop is at the top.

“The cooperation here, the management here, the other vendors that are here, ” Holden said, “you can pretty much get whatever you need food wise and beverage wise.”

That’s especially true now, as the eclectic and large market that truly invites the community and its dogs in, starts getting back to the way it was before COVID-19 shut it down.

“It’s been difficult,” said Reverend Derek Penwell, the senior pastor of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church. “This, is so much a part of the life of our congregation and this neighborhood.”

The Reverend helped bring the market to life more than a decade ago, when the church began using the large adjoining property to sell fresh produce to people in the hopes of bringing them together.

Holden said of the pandemic pause, “It was definitely a hit.”

The temporary loss of bringing his goods to market cost Holden about 50% of his business from April to late September. Now, a big element of the market is coming back.

“We’re starting with music back up,” he said, “the first time in over a year now.”

Live music on the porch starts Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and free food samples will return soon after that.

“I’m real excited,” Holden said, “it’s good to see people and people are glad to see me and other vendors.”

The Reverend added, “It’s sort of a deep sigh of relief, it feels like it used to feel.”

Masks are not required, but they are available for anyone who wants one, the Douglass Loop Farmers Market is free to people and dogs, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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