Stop by Elkader’s downtown market during National Farmers Market Week

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Georgia and Blair Scherf, with Blair’s Heart and Soil Produce, are among the vendors at the Elkader Farmers Market, held Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. at Founders Park. (Photos by Willis Patenaude)

Jack, Hayden and Greta Scherf are selling sweet corn to support their fair pigs.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

It’s National Farmers Market Week, so what better way to spend a Friday evening than taking a trip down Main Street and stopping just short of Founders Park for some sweet corn, baked bread, farm fresh eggs, vegetables, handmade crafts and everything else the Elkader Farmers Market has to offer. 

The market runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and while you’re there, take the time to stop by one of the many vendors, such as Blair’s Heart and Soil Produce, which is run by aspiring entrepreneur Blair Scherf. It started with the planting of a garden to be judged as a home garden for the Clayton County Fair, until COVID-19 spoiled the plans. When the fair was canceled, Blair made the decision to start selling the produce, which includes lettuce, kale, spinach, herbs, beets, beans and peas, at the farmers market. 

She also has a passion for baking, so it is not uncommon to find some baked goods available from time to time. 

As a vendor, especially one as young as Blair, being involved comes with learning valuable business skills, such as money management, saving, investments, hard work and socializing with an array of individuals. Participating in the market affords the opportunity to emphasize the burgeoning farm to table lifestyle, or in their case, “garden to table.” It is also about community and the idea of working together, which, according to Blair, “is beneficial to everyone.”

Then it is off to the Scherf Sweet Corn stand to stockpile the seasonal delicacy. It’s run by another group of young kids—siblings actually—Katelyn, Hayden, Jack and Greta Scherf. In their first year, the kids have used the proceeds to support their fair pigs, split evenly, four ways of course. 

They also do the majority of the work themselves in gathering the corn, and are involved in every transaction. It’s a good way to learn finances, the value of a dollar and, most importantly, community interaction. 

Before you head home, and after stopping for some other goods, drop by Dawn’s Crafts and Critters, where you’ll find an assortment of loom knitted and other handmade crafts. Owner Dawn Amundson said it all began as a hobby and the need to get rid of the extra eggs she has from her chickens, which gives her the ability to fulfill a set of passions: providing for and helping the community. She also enjoys being in the community, talking to people and promoting a reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy. 

However, the five-year farmers market veteran admitted that, this year, turnout is “not good.” Whether it’s the result of the coronavirus, a lack of advertising, the market’s location or some combination of the three, it has put Dawn in the “undecided” category as to whether or not she will return next year. 

Dawn spoke openly about the market’s move from Keystone Park to its current location with a hint of sadness. “I’m just trying to bring the market back together…I miss the family we had at the Keystone location,” she said. 

But that introspection quietly disappears as community members begin to arrive and purchase her eggs. The excitement, joy and giddy exhilaration of providing to people and giving back to the community overcomes all, even the location.

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