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Elkhart to become a two-market town this season

There’s a new farmers market opening this season in downtown Elkhart, in the same space vacated last year by the Elkhart Community Farmers Market. Peter Recchio, the owner, is excited at the prospect of bringing farm-fresh produce back to Main Street.

Recchio and his wife, Dawn, opened the home furnishings shop The Black Crow on Main late last year. The new market will be on the lower level of the shop (224 S. Main Street), accessible from the parking lot behind the building. Recchio said he’s pushing to get the market open in time for the beginning of the season (he plans to be open May 3) because he believes it’s a resource essential to the continued growth of activity in downtown Elkhart. The market previously in that spot, he said, had seemed to lose its focus in the last year, taking on more and more vendors peddling things other than food.

Thomas Langley, co-owner and manager of the Elkhart Community Farmers Market, said that was because construction in the building last season severely limited the space the market was able to use for food vendors. “When you have open ceilings and people working on sewer lines and things, you can’t run the risk of anything falling on the food. That hurt us,” he said.

Elkhart Community Farmers Market

Starting April 26, the Elkhart Community Farmers Market will be back in business at 1645 Cassopolis Street, in the building that houses the Penny Pinchers flea market. It will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Langley said the new location is more spacious and will provide more visibility and thus, he hopes, more traffic for the market. Plus, it will allow him to offer on-site refrigeration for vendors who wish to store their goods between market days rather than hauling them in and out.

Several of the market’s past vendors are expected to return, including Miller’s Market, McCartney Farms and Russ’ Fudge. There will also be produce grown by Langley and his wife in their Bristol greenhouse, where they have started experimenting with hydroponic tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and herbs this year. Langley also plans to offer gardening and cooking classes from time to time.

Elkhart City Farmers Market

Back on Main Street, the new Elkhart City Farmers Market will offer primarily local produce from vendors like Rise Up Farms, Fish Lake Organic Berry Patches and Ferro’s Breads, with a focus on organically grown foods and the farmers themselves manning their stands. Seasonal plants and flowers will also be available.

True to their backgrounds in marketing and home decor, the Recchios are putting considerable effort into giving the market a warm, old-world atmosphere with rustic chairs, doors and cabinets serving as creative displays for the farmers’ goods.

Recchio’s vision is to have downtown restaurants supplying their menus with farm-fresh produce from the market, and cooking demonstrations hosted at the market on a regular basis. Church Community Services’ new Men Alive program is teaming up with Seed to Feed to operate a booth the market, giving those in the program a chance to practice the business skills they’re learning.

The Elkhart City Farmers Market will be open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays starting May 3, then add Tuesday, Thursday and Friday hours as the season progresses.

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