Month Long Campaign Aims To Get People Back Out To Farmers Market

A new campaign to encourage people across central Illinois to shop local starts Thursday, Sept. 1. (WICS)

A new campaign to encourage people across central Illinois to shop local starts Thursday, Sept. 1.

The campaign, put on by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, aims to reverse the trend of the “September Slump”. A term used by farmers when describing the lack of shoppers at the beginning of September.

Jacque Simpson, the daughter of Ron Suttill who owns Suttill’s Gardens, a farm located in Springfield, says this type of year is when their farm produces some of their best produce.

"That's are, you know, prime time for produce is September," said Simpson.

The Suttills have been farming since 1904 and every year they bring produce to market. However, often times they say there aren't people there to buy their products. During the end of summer Simpson says they lose roughly five to six hundred dollars weekly.

"It is like a disaster for us because we are still in full force but people will just kind of...we're not going to go anymore," said Simpson.

Molly Gleason with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance says this problem isn’t unique to Suttill’s Gardens, but rather all farmers who sell their goods at farmers markets during this time of year.

"People tend to think that when the school year starts the farmers market stops and that's not really true. September is one of the best months for buying local food," said Gleason.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance says their office came up with a campaign aimed at putting local back on shopping list a bit longer.

"This September we are starting an eat local central Illinois September challenge. The challenge is to spend 20 dollars a week on locally grown food," said Gleason.

The hope is that with at least 500 participants during the month long campaign that roughly $40,000 will be put back into local economies.

Back on the farm Mr. Suttill prepares freshly pulled produce for his shelves. Something both he and his daughter hopes will sell soon thanks to this new campaign.

"We have been doing this for a while [farming]…it has always been my passion. It's like here - this is how your food is grown and this is where it comes from."

Here is a list of some of the participating farmers market across the area.

- The Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market

- The Urbana Market at the Square

- The Champaign Farmers Market

- The Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market

- The Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield

- The Streator Farmers Market

For more information about the Farmers Markets, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, click here.

For more information on the Suttill's Gardens, click here.

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