Eastwood Village Farmer’s Market Celebrates Grand Opening
Writer / Dennis Benzel
The Eastwood Village Farmer’s Market celebrated its Grand Opening on May 12 at the Eastwood Recreation Center and by all accounts, it was an overwhelming success. The weather was beautiful and the turnout was impressive.
Mike Kieper, owner of Kieper Farms, was ecstatic.
“Wow, what a great turn out for the first day,” he said. “Just imagine when these people start telling others that we’re here, this could be huge. I’m definitely bringing more product next time.”
Mike says he has been raising hogs pretty much his whole life and has chosen farmers’ markets as his main marketing tool.
“I just enjoy the whole market experience,” he says. “Especially talking with folks, it’s just a lot of fun for me.”
The market had a nice variety of offerings, such as the artisan breads sold by Lisa Overton of Little Creek Farms.
“We just started our farm in 2016,” Lisa says. “We grow vegetables and herbs and then I use them as ingredients in my sourdough breads and baguettes. It all started as a hobby about eight years ago and I’d give it all away as gifts. After so much chastising from my friends and family, who kept saying you have to stop just giving it away, I decided to start selling it and here I am. I’m very optimistic about this market, it’s going to grow and grow.”
“My wife, Susan and I started Bramble and Birds together,” he says. “We raise free range chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese and they’re all fed non-GMO feed. We are very proud of our product.”
The Weibels obviously offer several choices of types of eggs or you can mix and match a carton to get a variety.
“We also offer Heritage Breed Turkeys,” John says. “Some prominent chefs, farmers and food critics contend that heritage turkey meat tastes better and is healthier.”
One of the best surprises customers found was that they could get breakfast while shopping for their farm products. Chef Brian Schack, owner of The Block Gourmet Deli, was there serving up made to order omelets. Brian, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has been a chef for more than 30 years, mainly serving in the casino industry from Nevada to New Mexico, Mississippi and Indiana. Brian and his wife Kelly opened The Block in February of 2016 at 14041 Shelbyville Rd.
“We are very excited to participate in the Eastwood Village Farmers’ Market,” Brian says. “Last year we bought produce from some of the vendors, which worked out fantastic for us, especially since we’re so picky about the quality of the products we bring into the deli. So now to come back this year as one of the vendors is very cool. We’re starting out offering fresh omelets, and we’ll be changing up the menu a little as the farmers start bringing in different produce as the season progresses.”
Sitting under the dining canopy to enjoy a great omelet gave customers another nice surprise that you don’t find at most markets, the beautiful sound of music. Entertainment was brought by The Merrie Melodious Dulcimers, an all-volunteer group of 24 members from primarily Shelby and Henry counties who regularly get together to practice and also give free lessons at the Simpsonville United Methodist Church.
Saundra Smith says group performs about twice a week at senior centers and nursing homes.
“We are a little tired but are so glad we got to be a part of the Grand Opening,” she says. “Everyone has been so nice and helpful. The extra help we got in setting up from the young people was especially appreciated.”
The young people Saundra referenced were three young men from the Whitney Young Job Corps Center in Simpsonville. All of them are in the Culinary Arts program there and are volunteering their time to help the market. Ricky, one of the young men helping out, was introduced weeks before to The Block Gourmet Deli and is now an employee of theirs.
“Ricky has been a great addition to the deli and we are grateful we got the opportunity to meet him,” Kelly Schack says. Janette Sweeney, the Business Community Liaison from Whitney Young, was also present to meet with people.
“I am so glad I got to be here and share the great success story of the Job Corps,” she says. “We are pleased that three of our young men were able to volunteer their time for such a good cause. We are proud of all of our students who are trained in numerous disciplines at the Center.”
Ms. Sweeney encourages anyone who would like to learn more about the Whitney Young Job Corps Center to contact her at 502-722-3527.
The Eastwood Village Council, a group of volunteers that advocate for all things Eastwood and surrounding areas, had never sponsored a full-fledged farmers’ market before and wanted to be sure they did it by the book. David Bryant of Bryant’s Produce Market and one of the participating vendors suggested the Council contact Sharon Spencer with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for help.
Ms. Spencer gladly agreed to lead a one-day orientation covering all the basics of starting a farmers’ market. A core group of farmers and some Council members attended and came away energized and excited to get started. After two more organizational meetings, The Eastwood Village Farmers’ Market was launched. The market is registered with KDA and has the distinction of being a Kentucky Proud Market.
“Sharon has been an invaluable resource for us and really helped cut our learning curve. She has always been just an email or phone call away,” says Council Chair Dennis Benzel. “And with the help of a generous donation from our corporate sponsor, Crossroads IGA, we were able to get some excellent promotion and signage. We are greatly indebted to IGA and the KDA for our great start.”
Ms. Spencer was in attendance at the Grand Opening and says, “I’ve been involved with the Council from the beginning in organizing this new market and I am so pleased to be able to witness this Grand Opening. As I’ve talked with the vendors they’re telling me they may have underestimated the demand in the area. They’re selling out of a lot of their products and realize they’re going to have to double up for next week. But that’s a great sign of the potential for a great market in this community when you sell out the first day.”
“The vendors seem really excited to be in this community and are really feeling appreciated by all that came out,” adds Nancy G. Monroe, Ag Program Coordinator of KDA.
Yorke and Barbara Hanna are new to the Eastwood area and came to support the new market.
“We appreciate the hard work of the Council in organizing this market. We’re both originally from the country and we really like the atmosphere of Eastwood,” shares Mr. Hanna. Mrs. Hanna. “It’s nice to meet new people and have a sense of the larger community rather than what’s just on your little block. I really enjoy that part of it and just having a great thing to enjoy with your friends and family as well. We’ll definitely be back.”
The market is located at the Eastwood Rec Center, 16300 Eastwood Cut Off Rd. 40245. It is open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and will run through October 27. On October 26, the night before the market’s final day, the Council will sponsor a Farm to Fork event, which will be their main fundraiser for the year.
To learn more about this event or how to become a vendor at the market contact Dennis Benzel at email@example.com. You can also learn more about the Council at eastwoodvillagecouncil.com. A special thanks to our generous corporate sponsor, Crossroads IGA.