Note: This article is the third in a series about the regular vendors at the Wabash County Farmers Market. The farmers market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the TenPins bowling alley parking lot located at 930 W. Ninth St. in Mount Carmel. For more information, visit wabashcountyfarmersmarket.com.
ALLENDALE — Haleigh Buchanan never wanted to be a leader, but over the past two years she has lead the Wabash County Farmers Market to growth and success.
Wabash County Chamber of Commerce Directer Lesley Hipsher first approached Haleigh about revamping the farmers market last year. She immediately thought of her friend Nan Adams and the Campagnas as possible vendors.
“We got together and changed the location,” Haleigh said.
Together, they have made the market what it is today.
At the seven generation Buchanan farm, Haleigh and her sons, Wyatt, 5, and Henry, 3, began planting a garden.
“It started off just as something that I wanted to do with my boys because my husband used to do the farmers market with his grandpa when he was a kid,” she said.
Adam Buchanan, Haleigh’s husband and a sixth generation farmer, taught her how to can fruits and vegetables. Her father, Bob Woods, also gardened so she already had a pretty good grasp on growing produce.
At first, Haleigh just sold sweet corn, but as the market grew, so did her garden.
“Last year I had a huge garden, but this year I had Rowdy in March so the garden is a little smaller,” she said.
Rowdy, the newest addition to the Buchanan boys, is now three months old. Having a newborn was part of the reason why Haleigh was missing from the market for most of April, as well as soccer and farming seasons.
Produce available at the market varies throughout the growing season. Haleigh starts with the cold weather crops like lettuce and peas, and now has vegetables zucchini, squash and cucumbers available.
In July, sweet corn, peppers and tomatoes will be ready for harvest.
“The boys love to help plant seeds and harvest the produce, but most of all they love to hunt for worms while I work in the garden so they can go fishing when their dad gets home,” Haleigh laughed.
In addition to the fresh produce, Buchanan Market has pigs, cows and chickens. Haleigh sold whole hog sausage that was raised on their farm and butchered at Dewig Meats at the farmers market last week.
“We just enjoy eating our own things too,” she said. “It’s a lot cheaper that way, especially in the winter when you go to the grocery store to by vegetables its just really expensive. We ran out of beef one time and I had to buy ground beef at the store and I thought ‘Oh my goodness I can’t believe how expensive this is!’ ”
Prices for the Buchanan’s meat and produce varies depending on the quantity and also the time of day.
“As the day goes on I might drop my prices when I’m getting ready because the quality might not be as good if it’s been sitting out. I picked it that night or that morning before I came to the market and if it’s 90 degrees outside and it’s been sitting out it might not be as fresh as I want it to be,” Haleigh said. “And I don’t like to take stuff home.”
The family shares a lot of their unsold produce with their neighbors in rural Allendale.
“My favorite thing to do is to take our produce to all of our neighbors, especially if it is midweek stuff that I know is not going to make it to the farmers market,” Haleigh said. “Our neighbors are all amazing, and they are so much help when it comes to the kids too. I can call any of them up and ask them to watch the kids for a moment, but they never let me pay them. So I’m always saying ‘Well let me give you vegetables — I’ll bring you a bag of cherries, I bring you some sweet corn.’ ”
Haleigh also hosts kid-friendly painting or other crafts at the market. She has a bachelor’s degree in art education, and used to teach art at Mount Carmel Middle School before she became a stay-at-home mom.
“I try to incorporate art in my life whenever I can — I like to offer art at the market for things like Mothers Day or Fourth of July. I do painting classes and art lessons on the side,” she said.
As for future plans for Buchanan Market, Haleigh said she’s just enjoying watching the farmers market grow.
“It’s great having people buy local — knowing that they can purchase their meat and produce local and even just encouraging them to grow their own things — I love to see people have their own gardens,” she said. “The plan is to grow our garden, eat our food and raise our kids and try to do all of that the best we can.”
More information about Haleigh’s produce and other items can be found on the Buchanan Market Facebook page.