Downtown Treasure: Keller & The Lancaster Farmers Market

Keller Market House’s 6th season of The Lancaster Farmers Market has kicked off with new and exciting plans prepared for the community.

Every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, neighbors can find local vendors under tents and behind truck beds in the Chestnut Street parking lot between Broad and Columbus Streets in downtown Lancaster, Ohio. The 6th season runs until October 7th, with the special Harvest Market scheduled for November 18th this year.

Cinnamon Roll Stand at the Lancaster Farmer's Market in Lancaster, Ohio.

Cinnamon Roll Stand at the Lancaster Farmer’s Market in Lancaster, Ohio.

Erin Harvey has been the manager of the Keller Market House since the summer of 2017 but she started her relationship with the market house when it opened in 2016. “I was a vendor when it got started,” Harvey said. “At the time, I was selling vegetables in farmers markets and nursery plants, so I was a vendor in 2016 when they opened and then I was a board member.”

Harvey has worked with the market house to be a place where local producers can not only sell their food products but also their artisan crafts and creations. While they’ve always been associated with The Lancaster Farmers Market which was founded in 1983, Keller Market House began managing the Saturday morning market in 2018.

Becoming involved in the Saturday farmers market is a straightforward process. “We are a producer-only market which means we want vendors that are growing their own thing, baking their own thing, processing it their own way, we don’t want people just reselling,” Harvey said, adding that the market is also kept to local producers. “That’s sort of our criteria: local, producer-only, [have] a following, all the rules and guidelines that apply to their product.”

Jodie Poor and Henry Poor of PoorBoyz Produce at the Lancaster Farmer's Market in Lancaster, Ohio.

Jodie Poor and Henry Poor of PoorBoyz Produce at the Lancaster Farmer’s Market in Lancaster, Ohio.

The Keller Market House helps both their in-house and Saturday morning vendors find the right resources and necessary processes for selling their products in the state of Ohio. “Sometimes people are like ‘I wanna make this thing!’ but they haven’t necessarily done their homework. We try to help people.” Harvey also mentioned that, for the outside farmers market, vendors will need to have liability insurance. “They’re conducting business on City property so sometimes that’s tricky for people, but that is a requirement,” Harvey said. “Which, these days, I think it’s easier, there are online insurance companies that specialize in farmers market vendors.”

Vendors don’t need to have a spot inside the Keller Market House to host a booth during the Saturday market. Instead, Harvey refers to the indoor and outdoor markets as “sister markets.” “We have a lot of vendors that do both and I think that’s like a bonus. If you do the Saturday [Farmer’s] market, you have that face-to-face interaction with customers that really builds brand awareness,” Harvey said. However, she also pointed out people don’t just shop on Saturday mornings. “So then if you choose to also apply to the Keller Market House, then it’s just a different model. It’s consignment, typically.”

Violinist Gabriel Heetland playing at the Lancaster Farmer's Market on opening day, May 6, 2023, in Lancaster, Ohio.

Violinist Gabriel Heetland playing at the Lancaster Farmer’s Market on opening day, May 6, 2023, in Lancaster, Ohio.

The Saturday Farmer’s Market also keeps things fresh with regular visitors and hosted events from community groups. “We offer free booth space to non-profit organizations like Meals On Wheels, OSU Extension, and the recycling programs,” Harvey said. “We also welcome volunteers. We have some people that play music, like we’ve had some high school students from LHS Band come and play.”

On the second Saturday of the month, Keller Market House hosts Kids’ Days. “The library will be doing Story Time through the summer, AHA [A Hands-On Adventure] will be there with kids’ activities. We try to just make it welcoming for families, especially those days,” Harvey said.

Keller Market House at the corner of Chestnut and S. Columbus Streets in Lancaster, Ohio.

Keller Market House at the corner of Chestnut and S. Columbus Streets in Lancaster, Ohio.

Earlier in June for the first Kids Day, the Saturday market was able to feature a new event thanks to the Fairfield County Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee grant program. “Our proposal was that kids could come to the farmer’s market and basically get tokens, free money that they could spend however they like at the booths.” The goal was to involve the kids in the farmer’s market, give them an opportunity to learn a little more about budgeting with the “Seed Money” coupons, and encourage families to visit the Saturday market.

There’s no shortage of buzz around Keller Market House with even more events, workshops, and vendors inside the building. Stay tuned with the Lancaster Herald to learn more about the ProducePERKS program and upcoming involvement opportunities Keller Market House has to offer this year.

In the meantime, take a Saturday morning stroll through the market this season to show some community appreciation and support your local producers. Learn more about becoming a Vendor at Keller Market House, and becoming a Lancaster Farmers Market Vendor.

Filed under: Community, Farm & Field, Food & Beverage, Life, Meet Your Neighbors, News, People
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By Eleanor Mathers

Eleanor Mathers is a lead contributor to The Lancaster Herald. As a freelance writer with a special interest in the arts, Eleanor contributes stories about the arts and artists. Besides running her blog and services at EleanorTypes.com, they can be found behind bookshelves and at coffee tables around Lancaster.