Follow the aromas of fresh picked herbs, ripening berries, sweet lavender and just-baked cookies and rolls to historic downtown Edwardsville on Saturday mornings. Sips of freshly brewed hot coffee along with melt-in-your-mouth hand-frosted cinnamon rolls are among the delightful ways to start each weekend at The Land of Goshen Community Market.
For 24 weeks every spring and summer, the market – just east of the Madison County Courthouse between North Main and St. Louis Streets – offers adults, children and dogs on leashes a Saturday morning full of locally grown fresh produce, live music, baked delicacies, handmade crafts and expertise on how to grow and support sustainable communities. Hours are from 8 a.m. to noon and admission is free.
Freshly snipped bunches of locally grown sunflowers, a plethora of fresh herbs and native plants to carry home and add to your garden are offered by vendors who have grown them within just a few miles of the market’s location. Naturally sweet, organic raw honey made by local bees and sold by local beekeepers tempt many who are looking for distinctly local treats to bring back from their travels. A bounty of fresh garlic, crunchy kohlrabi, Patty Pan yellow squash, mild, ready-to-grill green onions, bushels of nutrient-rich and earthy kale, spicy radishes, snap green beans, huge heads of broccoli, larger than life Swiss chard and other same day-picked, locally grown vegetables abound at Goshen Market from vendors such as Daydream Farm of Greenville, IL and Cooley Farms of Boulder, IL Vegetable gardeners will delight in vendor Lefty Letters’ array of hand-painted garden markers. Plump, sun-ripened tomatoes and roadside stand fresh sweet corn grown in the local river valleys are also part of the bountiful produce offerings.
Local farmers including D & M Farms from Breese, are market mainstays offering naturally raised, hormone-free beef, lamb, goat and pork. Dorsey-based Coriander Fields grows and sells pasture-raised, GMO-free chicken and eggs.
Those with a dedicated sweet tooth will be enticed by the hand-blended creations of Edwardsville-based J & J Chocolate Chalet. Visitors may opt to pair their cup of java (ground mere steps away at 222 Artisan Bakery) with a cream cheese-frosted cinnamon roll baked by market vendor Callie Bakes, whose delights also include chocolate pecan pies, chocolate espresso cookies and locally made caramels.
All-natural, homespun herbal soaps in a rainbow of shades and scents can be found at the booth of Lovely Lane Soaps. The artist creates her soaps using essential oils and fragrance oils designed with colorful micas.
Is tie-dyed apparel your style, or might it be a coveted souvenir for a family member or fun friend? If so, Spider Web Arts may have a groovy, custom-dyed shirt waiting for you.
Homemade gourmet bread fans will want to peruse Edwardsville-based market vendor La Grigne Artisan Breads’ wares featuring leaf-shaped hazelnut rosemary fougasse, the French adaptation of Italian focaccia bread. La Grigne also tempts market visitors with cheddar onion brioche spirals. Husk cherries – small, pale orange fruits wrapped in a crinkly, paper-like husk with a mild, flavorful taste resembling a blend of tomato and pineapple – are a unique fresh offering from River Farms of Edwardsville.
Local glass and metalsmith Irie Elements demonstrates to visitors that the Goshen Market includes even more than an abundant selection of consumables. This vendor creates wearable metal art from bangles to bejeweled rings and pins. Another local artist/vendor, Ooh La De Da by Lise, creates and sells vintage jewelry designed with polymer clay. Bird lovers will flock to the booth of JBoss Pottery. The vendor makes bird feeders, garden bells and Raku (Japanese pottery) decorative items.
“The Land of Goshen Community Market is more than a bountiful source of fruits, vegetables and other homegrown goods,” said Tara Pohlman, who co-manages the market with Candice Watson. “It offers visitors and regulars a whole host of customized heritage art and up-close-and-personal knowledge about how to eat healthy, support local farmers and teach children about the importance of helping feed others as well.”
Beyond the 80-plus vendors (some seasonal, some all-season) that are a part of the market, visitors may enjoy live demonstrations such as basket weaving, sculpting, sheep shearing and rope making, along with firsthand education from actual growers and experts – such as pollinators – through an initiative known as Market Sprouts.
“Market Sprouts includes a short lesson that educates children and their parents on the importance of eating fresh, locally grown produce,” Watson said. “Farmers from our market donate a different crop each week for taste testing, all of which has been grown within a 100-mile radius of Edwardsville, and most of it nearer than that.”
Market Sprouts is in operation each Saturday to teach “little sprouts” how to grow and give a portion of the harvest to others less fortunate. Farmers at the Edwardsville market regularly and generously donate excess fresh produce to the market’s foundation, which in turn shares it with several area food pantries.
Watson says it’s interactive and fun, offering kids their first tastes of mysterious vegetables like kohlrabi, beets and kale. “Kids and adults try free samples that our farmers donate to showcase the flavors of the Southern Illinois region and to learn the huge health benefits of superfoods,” said Watson.
Market visitors don’t have to go without during the late fall and winter months. The Land of Goshen Community Market also operates an indoor market on the third Saturday morning of the month from November through April. The indoor market takes place in the basement of Newsong Fellowship Church, 201 St. Louis Street, just steps away from the outdoor market site. All Goshen Market vendors accept debit and credit cards in addition to cash.
For those who are looking to pair their farmers’ market experience with more fun, downtown Edwardsville will not disappoint. The market hosts a complimentary (donation-based) Kundalini Yoga and Gong session beginning at 8:30am led by local instructors from Studio Gaia. Local athletic retailer RunWell, hosts a weekly Saturday morning run/walk (for all paces and distances) that begins at 8am at the store and ends at the market. For the kids, staff from local new and pre-owned book dealer Afterwords Books reads stories at Edwardsville-based Artisan 222 Bakery beginning at 11am on market Saturdays. The running retailer and the bakery are also located in downtown Edwardsville within easy walking distance of the market, as is Restore Décor, a nonprofit resale shop operated by members of Faith Coalition.
The market location is fully accessible to all visitors. For more information about The Land of Goshen Community Market, see www.goshenmarket.org or find the Goshen Market Foundation on Facebook @goshenmktfoundation.
This article written by Kerry Smith, founder of Informationworks, Inc.