The Farmers Market has opened this summer in a new location in Conway, Arkansas. For years, the organization has set up shop at the Faulkner County Fairgrounds. Last year, the Board of Directors of the organization decided to bring the market to downtown Conway. It set up on Front Street in the town, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The problem with this location was that it interfered with the business acumen of the town. There was a parking problem and the market received only the downtown workers as customers.
This year the Market has moved to Parkway Street to an empty parking lot, in the heart of downtown Conway. They have seen the business pick up considerably since the move. There is ample parking, and the flow of customers does not interfere with the already established businesses.
There is one rule that the Farmers Market Board observes. All produce must be locally grown — nothing can be imported from other areas.
A walk through the Conway market finds potatoes, squash, cabbage, and tomatoes. Berries of all types and sizes are available. The strawberries can be smelled when you enter the area. Peaches and plums are freshly picked the day of the market. Corn, in season, is a big seller.
Homemade cheese is available from a local dairy. Not to be outdone, the vendors offer a vast array of jams and jellies, all made in the comforts of their kitchen.
Each farmer has their own private scale to weigh the items that are purchased. Others use the simple method of “two for this price.”
Fresh eggs are sold at a booth manned by Mennonites, who raise the chickens. There is a farmer who makes sausage from the finest select farm fresh meats and spices.
A farmer brings in some potted plants to sell. They range from herbs to flowering plants. With each plant sale, there is always some helpful advice on how to maintain them.
A jewelry maker displays her wares at another booth. Special orders are always welcome.
A candle maker finds a shady spot and sets up her various scented candles display.
A local musician or two sometime walk the market, playing a few tunes.
The prices are reasonable and all items are freshly picked or home made. Prices fluctuate from each vendor, so a walk through before making a purchase, is a good idea.
The true enjoyment of the Conway Farmers Market is visiting with the farmers and the shoppers.
The Conway Market is composed of a Board of Directors and members from farms in the area. They decide on the opening date and the closing date, the times, and the days that they will be open.
This year the market will keep to its Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday schedule. They open at 6 a.m. and remain open until their goods are sold. This usually is around 10:30 a.m. on a nice day.
The secret to a successful day of shopping at the market is simple. Arrive early for the best chance of getting the popular fruits and vegetables, especially corn in season.
Wear some protective clothing from the sun, as most of the market is not shaded.
Bring a bag to gather your purchases. The farmers have bags, but a shopping bag is convenient for many purchases.
Try to bring smaller bills, so you can shop the various vendors without taking all of their change.
Walk around to view all of the produce and compare prices before purchase.
Visit with the friendly faces and make new friends.
Enjoy the plentiful bounty of fruits and vegetables in the area.