Yin and yang. Old and new. The mother tree and the seedling.
Pa Lao arranges flowers at her family's booth at the Bentonville Farmers Market last year.
Yer Vang of Colcord, Okla., helps a customer at the Rogers Farmers Market. The summer market opens April 30 at the Frisco Station Mall.
Carrots from NWA Natural Produce in Lincoln are on display at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market Winter Market, which ended March 26. The market returns to the square on Saturday.
Amy Edie of Fayetteville works on an animal portrait last year at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market. The eclectic mix of food and fun is the standard for Northwest Arkansas farmers markets.
There's a new kid in town, but the grand dame of Northwest Arkansas farmers markets is alive and well, too.
All the Markets
We Could Find
Bella Vista Farmers Market — 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays starting April 17 at Mercy Medical. bellavistaar.gov/farmers-market or (479) 936-6314.
Downtown Bentonville Market — 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays starting April 23 on the square. downtownbentonville.org.
Berryville Farmers Market — 7:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays starting April 30 on the square. 870-654-5589.
Eureka Springs Farmers Market — 7 a.m.-noon Tuesdays and Thursdays starting April 19. www.facebook.com/ESFarmersMarket.
Fayetteville Farmers’ Market — 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays starting April 2, on the square. fayettevillefarmersmarket.org or 236-2910.
Wren Thicket Market — 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, year-round on School Avenue. wrenthicketmarket.com.
Gravette Farmers Market — 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays starting April 16 downtown. cityofgravette-ar.gov.
Green Forest Farmers Market — 7 a.m.-noon Wednesdays starting May 4 on the square. facebook.com/GreenForestFarmersMarket or 870-654-5589.
Holiday Island Farmers Market — 4 p.m.-dark Fridays beginning April 1 at Veterans Memorial Park. 417-846-3616.
Madison County Market — 7 a.m.-noon Tuesdays and Saturdays starting April 12 on the Huntsville square. 456-2314.
Newton County Farmers Market — 3-6 p.m. Fridays on the square and 9 a.m.-noon Wednesdays at the Extension Office starting April 15. 870-446-2240 or facebook.com/NewtonCountyFarmersMarket.
Paris Farmers Market — 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays starting in May in Eiffel Tower Park. parisarkansas.locallygrown.net or 847-5174.
Pea Ridge Farmers Market — 1-5 p.m. Sundays starting April 10 on Slack Street in front of the police department. 381-2897.
Rogers Farmers Market — 9 a.m.-2 p.m. inside on Saturdays year round; 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays starting April 30 at Frisco Station Mall. www.facebook.com/rogersfarmermkt or 246-8383.
Siloam Springs Farmers Market — 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and 3-7 p.m. Tuesdays starting April 26 at City Park. siloamsprings.locallygrown.net.
Springdale Farmers Market — 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting May 7 at the Jones Center. springdalefarmersmarket.org or 751-3352.
Mill Street Market — 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays starting April 30 on Emma Avenue downtown. 966-3255 or millstmarket.com.
West Fork Garden Market — 7:30-noon Saturdays starting April 2, 3-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting June 1. 225-1611.
— Deb Harvell
Founded in 1973, the Fayetteville Farmers' Market has nearly doubled in size since she moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1991, says Teresa Maurer, its vendor coordinator.
"I've been a customer since Day 1," she says. "It was such a great market but a much smaller market -- about 40 vendors, maybe. I don't think any streets were closed. East Avenue was the first one closed in 2000 or 2001."
This Saturday, the market will open at 7 a.m. with 70 vendor spots full, offering everything from asparagus to jams and jellies to arts, crafts and coffee.
What makes the market the standard by which others in the region are judged is the atmosphere that eclectic mix engenders.
"It sort of crosses the line between farmers' market and entertainment venue," Maurer says, with music, arts and crafts, jugglers, conversations, dog walking and special events all happening at any given time. This year, she says, the "big new thing" is cooking demonstrations on the first Saturday of each month, May through October, at the entrance to the Town Center plaza.
"It'll be a chance for people to actually see somebody preparing things available at market that day and giving recipes," she says. "We had that on special event basis, but this year, we're able to do it once a month. Our emphasis is something anyone can do. It will be fun to have a chef talk about it -- and we'll have different chefs -- but it will be something people will see and think, 'Oh, I can make that!'
Of course, the weekday markets will also continue, starting at 7 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; Kids' and Seniors' Day will be June 16; and the Salsa Fest is set for July 16 -- at the beginning of tomato season, Maurer says.
There is only one aspect of the Fayetteville tradition that Maurer can't explain.
"I don't know how the dog thing got started," she says, "but they're part of the character of the market."
Tiffany Selvey won't say the new Mill Street Market in Springdale -- debuting April 30 -- was modeled on the Fayetteville Farmers' Market.
She won't say it wasn't, either.
"Springdale has had a market for years and years, and it was a great place to get produce," says the new market manager. "But the Mill Street Market really came from wanting more of an event type market in Springdale -- a place to go and spend time, to connect with our community -- a place you know you can go and get coffee and see your friends.
"On a practical note," she adds, "urban farmers need places where we can sell to the community."
Selvey and her husband, James Selvey, consider themselves urban farmers, but they've never sold at a market before, just directly to customers. "So we have a lot to learn!" Gardening is, however, a family tradition for Selvey, learned at the knee of her grandfather, Dean Fanning, who is now 81.
"He's my inspiration, always has been," she says. "Gardening and growing food have always been a part of my life."
When she was employed full time, Selvey says she was a container gardener. But after adopting her son in 2009, gardening was "a practical solution to being able to feed our family healthier food." Now she's a Master Gardener, and her husband a Master Gardener trainee.
"Maybe it's just an innate love of being outside," she muses. "I never had to work in the garden as a kid. I just enjoyed walking around the garden with my grandfather and eating and watching the birds and squirrels. It's still magical to me to watch a seed become something you can feed your family."
And what better way to share that magic than a farmers market?
"We had talked about this with friends for a long time -- but I kept hoping someone else would do it," she says with a laugh. "It's a big undertaking!
"When I finally pitched the idea to the city, it was so much easier than I expected. It wasn't a battle at all. And we have a beautiful location."
The market will take up a portion of Mill Street and Johnson Avenue, across the boardwalk from the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Selvey promises visitors can spend the morning perusing produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, "fantastic" homemade pies, some craft items, jewelry and handcrafted handbags.
"Come down, meet the farmers, ask them how to cook their lamb meat or what to do with the strawberries fresh today," she suggests."It's a community building market."
NAN What's Up on 04/01/2016