Holiday event at farmers market offers opportunities for small businesses

Alex and Rosie Hunt, owners of the Maple Yard, work at their booth at the Holiday Market at the BG Community Farmer’s Market on Dec. 5, 2020. They sold wreaths and Charisma Amaryllis, a bulb flower that blooms in the spring, there.

Michael J. Collins

The Community Farmers Market on Saturday held a holiday market featuring numerous food and gift vendors, offering local businesses an opportunity to sell goods during a difficult year.

Laura Beth Fox-Ezell manages the market located by South Campus and said the holiday event is a safe opportunity for shoppers to get their Christmas gifts while supporting regional farmers and makers.

“We have a lot of our regular vendors here, but we’ve also got some special stands,” Fox-Ezell said. “We’ve got a pottery maker in the corner, we’ve got woodworkers and we’ve got a stand selling local wine as well.”

Fox-Ezell said the market was also offering flu shots that day to customers.

“So you can come in and get your presents, some food and your flu shot,” Fox-Ezell said.

Fox-Ezell said every one of the 30 vendors on Saturday was Kentucky-based, with most being from within a few miles of Warren County.

Fox-Ezell said that many vendors have experienced fewer customers and fewer opportunities to sell to the public as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown during the summer.

“Since we’re an essential business due to our access to fresh and local produce, our market didn’t close over the summer,” Fox-Ezell said. “I think this community, in particular, has done an amazing job supporting local businesses.”

Nayce Taylor, a maple syrup producer from Scottsville, harvests syrup himself and sells products including spreads, cookbooks and sauces.

“In 2010, I started with two taps,” Taylor said. “I had five gallons of sap, boiled it down, which took six hours and half a tank of propane on a turkey fryer. I made twelve ounces of syrup and I was hooked.”

Taylor is a regular at the market, but most of his sales come from working festivals around Kentucky, many of which were canceled due to COVID-19.

“I was able to do four [festivals], but I would’ve liked to do 14,” Taylor said. “[The market] is always great. I love interacting with people, and they really love my products.”

Shawn Hewing, a mushroom farmer from Richardsville, Kentucky, runs a stall covered in a variety of dried, fresh and ground mushrooms while dressed in an unbuttoned Santa suit.

“I’ve been doing this for about four years, growing mushrooms and selling them here in Bowling Green,” Hewing said. “Everything is grown following organic practices, no pesticides, no chemicals.”

Hewing offers dozens of mushroom varieties ranging from common shitake and lion’s mane to some that glow in the dark, as well as kits to grow your own mushrooms.

Hewing has sold at the market for three years and says the market has allowed him “business as usual” despite restrictions due to COVID-19.

“The farmer’s market is a different kind of grocery store,” Hewing said. “It’s been doing well, it’s a place where people can still get out and get their food and still be safe.”

Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.