Lockhart Farmers Market gives vendors opportunity to shine
When Jenniffer Bauman and a group of friends first started a Farmers Market on Main Street in Lockhart five years ago, they never knew they’d someday host more than 60 vendors.
The Lockhart Farmers Market, which became an official entity earlier this year, now sets up shop around the Caldwell County Courthouse, offering residents a chance to shop for a variety of products from local farmers, artisans, ranchers, shop owners, beekeepers, bakers, cooks and more.
According to Bauman, applying to become an official farmers market was originally born out of necessity.
“At first it was just a trickle,” said Bauman. “Just one by one, people started showing up and showing up.
“The next thing we know, there’s a whole bunch of us, but we were all fighting for real estate basically. It started with us showing up at seven in the morning, then people started showing up even earlier than seven. The next thing I know I’m getting up at four in the morning to get to the square.”
Now that their Farmers Market application has been accepted, Bauman said anyone interested in becoming a vendor can do so by emailing Lockhartfarmersmarket@gmail.com, space permitting.
“Our priority is to open our doors to the residents first,” said Bauman, noting she preferred hosting vendors that live within a 50-mile radius to keep the products as a local as possible, though she said those who live beyond that limit can still apply.
The market does have a produce vendor, Bauman said, but finding people who sell fresh, local produce has been difficult.
“There are a lot of [local] farmers, but a lot of them do hay or sorghum — not stuff that you can sell at a farmer’s market for eating purposes,” said Bauman, noting her current produce vendor sells a mixture of home-grown products and items he has to source out. “He sources the fruits or whatever he needs to source out and he brings it to the market. He leaves the sticker on so people know it’s not home grown.”
Though the Farmers Market’s popularity has continued to spike over the last few months, Bauman noted it hasn’t come without a few problems along the way.
“A few [local businesses] have complained that they are competing directly with the market,” said Bauman, noting several restaurants had experienced an influx of customers coming in solely to use their restrooms.
“We solved that problem by hiring a Port-a-Potty.
“Another issue was the parking around the square. It is a rule that the vendors are not to park around the square or in front of other businesses.”
Bauman noted vendors have addressed that issue by coming to an agreement with Bank OZK to use their parking lot.
Additionally, Bauman said she’s offered the local shop owners along the Square the opportunity to set up a station at the market free of charge, though she noted nobody has taken her up on the offer yet.
“It is a capitalist market,” she said in response to some of the criticism the farmers market has endured. “If they feel threatened, they need to step up their game.
“As far as problems with vendors causing issues, we try to work with everybody basically, but it’s impossible to keep everybody happy. No matter what we do, somebody’s always going to be angry.”