Back in 1996, a few Logan County producers had an epiphany: rather than driving back and forth to Columbus to sell their goods at other farmers markets every weekend, maybe they could pull off a market in Bellefontaine to keep their products in the same area they were grown in. Starting with just five vendors, the Logan County Farmers Market began. Those five vendors saw steady growth year after year – a sign that Logan County was finding value in their locally produced goods.
After a few location changes, several successful federal grants, and an organizational shift, the Logan County Food System Initiative, which oversees the Logan County Farmers Market, is proud to offer two physical farmers markets in downtown Bellefontaine and Lakeview as well as an off-season online market. The market boasts over thirty local vendors and is excited to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
“The best part about food is that everyone needs it,” shared MacKenzie Myers Fitzpatrick, Food System Coordinator and Board Secretary of the Logan County Food System Initiative. “Whether they are a producer, a customer, a volunteer, a sponsor, a student, or any other way of identifying within the market or food system, each individual has their own relationship with food. Our organization works hard to facilitate those relationships, aiming to create accessible experiences for every role.”
The market founders felt it was important to bring the value of local, ethically grown produce to the residents of Logan County just as they had seen in the Columbus markets. “This step creates a wonderful economic opportunity for the community while benefiting the residents and vendors alike with shorter commutes, better health options, new food experiences and more,” said MacKenzie. “So for our organization, Logan County is home because what better place to share love and joy through food than home?”
The market is open to vendors within 40 miles of downtown Bellefontaine. In addition to the three markets, the Logan County Food Systems Initiative offers outreach and educational experiences as well as integrative events with its various community partners. Vendors at the Logan County Farmers Market and its offshoots are required to grow the produce that they sell at the market, a value that they are proud to uphold as it becomes increasingly rare as “eating local” gains a broader definition nationwide.
The pandemic brought a significant shift to the operations of the Logan County Farmers Market. Beginning in March of last year, the team began to work diligently on a long-time dream of implementing a virtual market option for Logan County. Just one month later in April 2020, the team was able to launch LCFM Online, a weekly online market where community members could place streamlined orders from Logan County vendors. The online market continues to operate in the off-season from October through April.
More information on the Logan County Food System Initiative is available at locofood.org. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Please join us in congratulating the Logan County Farmers Market on 25 years and for being named the Logan County Chamber Member of the Month.