It’s a SNAP
Noblesville Farmers Markets adds benefit program for customers
By Mark Ambrogi
The Noblesville Farmers Market will provide an new community service benefit this year for customers.
The market will accept Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits as an added convenience this year the market will accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT) cards.
“It’s a benefit to the consumer and provides them with fresh local produce,” said Chris Owens, execute director of Noblesville Main Street. “I think we are the first in Hamilton County to pursue the SNAP process.”
Noblesville Main Street is a nonprofit whose mission is to organize community resources to develop and promote the economic vitality of downtown Noblesville.
The market, which is run by Noblesville Main Street, began on May 9 and runs through Oct. 17. The market, the oldest and largest in Hamilton County, is held in the Riverview Health overflow parking lot (at Conner Street at the intersection of Ind. 32 and Ind. 19). The hours are 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday, rain or shine.
Nobleville Main Street, a non-profit organization, organizes the market. Paul Wood, who serves as the Market Master, is glad the market is returning to Riverview’s lot.
“Everything became a blessing when Riverview allowed us to return to that location for one more year,” Wood said. “It made it a lot easier to set up my midway and food court because a lot of my vendors are willing to return to same location. We’ve had an incredibly good response from returning vendors as well as a good response from first-time people.”
Owens said Riverview Health officials informed his organization earlier this year the market could return.
“There was a change in their development time line so they allowed us to be back this year,” Owens said. “We had vetted three sites when they called and let us know the lot would be available for the summer. It (Riverview’s lot) is a great location and it’s a bit of a known quantity. We’ve had it there for years. We know where the great signage locations are. It’s good visibility.”
Owens said eventually the market hopes to move to the Federal Hill Park site.
Wood said the large amount of parking at Riverview helps the older customers
Wood said a primary reason for the market’s success is its broad variety. The market has an estimated 70 vendors and nearly 90 booths occupying spaces right now.
“I made the midway wide enough that an emergency vehicle could get through if necessary, but it’s still narrow enough that people can walk both sides and get a taste of all of the varying vendors we have,” he said. “That makes me happy.”
Wood said the vendors deserve credit for the success.
“I’m just here if they have a problem I can solve it for them,”he said. “We have a lot of good natural products.”
The vendors include homegrown fruits, vegetables, meats, plants, herbs, flowers, honey, spices, wines, jellies, salsas and more. The handmade items include baked goods, soaps, jewelry, artwork, quality crafts and pet products.
There is entertainment at the food court nearly every Saturday, Wood said.
The market averages between 2,200 and 2,400 customers each week.
Each week Wood sends out a note titled Monday Market Musings to his vendors to detail what is slated for the coming Saturday. Wood said he also requests if a vendor is not going to be there, they let him know.
“That makes sure I don’t have any gaps or holes,” Wood said. “I’m constantly getting requests for a single Saturday vendor so I’m looking for open booths.
Wood also runs the Thursday Night Market, which starts June 4 and runs through Sept. 17. It is located just east of the Noblesville Main Street office at 839 Conner St.
“It’s more of custom market with things to nibble on,” Wood said.
Owens described it as European-style market.
Wood said the market’s special days are always extremely popular.
The special days are May 30: Health Fair; June 20: Kids Day; Aug. 22: Pie Day; Sept. 19: Pet Day and Oct. 10: Firefighter Chili Cook-off.
“We invited the five municipalities in Hamilton County that have fire departments to show,” Wood said. “Being the competitive person I am, I might go against the fire departments.”
The Pet Day will emphasize the vendors that homemade dog treats and other pet products.
Customers are welcome to walk their pets each week, Wood said.
Wood said officials offer one nonprofit organization’s booth availability each Saturday at no cost.
“Weirdly we haven’t had a request for a duplicated date, which I thought was absolutely staggering,” he said. “Most of them are bake sales, but we have lemonade day. We put the nonprofit right at the edge of the midway and the food court.”