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Farmers’ market vendors feeling effects of inflation, gas prices

As gas prices have gone up, local growers' prices have gone up some, too. But not as much as grocery stores.

Good Hope Gardens has been growing fruits and vegetables in McDonough County for three generations.

“We grow from A to Z. We do asparagus to zucchini,” said Mary Jo DeCounter of her family’s business. “And then we do have a small orchard, too, which has plums, peaches, cherries, and apples.”

From the first crop of asparagus in the spring to its four-dollar pumpkins in the fall, the DeCounter family sells its produce out of a storefront at 445 E. Main St. in Good Hope six days a week.

But they also set up shop at the Macomb farmers’ market on Thursdays and the Galesburg farmers’ market on Saturdays.

DeCounter said farmers’ markets are essential to the business.

“The good thing is you get to meet people. They get to make a connection with what we do,” DeCounter said. “It’s not like pulling asparagus out of a freezer or a bag of peas. They actually see that there are people that grow this.”

DeCounter said as gas prices have gone up, Good Hope Gardens’ prices have had to go up some, too.

But not as much as grocery store prices, and not for everything they sell.

“There’s some things we are still the same price that we were five years ago,” she said.

Other things they grow have gone up maybe a quarter a pound.

For DeCounter, good prices are not the only benefit of buying hyper-local at the farmers’ market.

She said the quality of the food is also better than what’s at the store.

“It’s so much fresher. It hasn’t traveled,” she said, gesturing to a bin of asparagus at Macomb’s first regular season market this week. “This has only been picked less than 24 hours ago and it only traveled six miles to get here.”

Macomb’s market features local growers, local artisans – and local bakers, including Doris Carman of “Doris’ Pies.”

Carman retired from Western Illinois University in 1999, and then embarked on a second career as a piemaker.

“When I retired from work, that’s what I said I was going to do --make pies,” Carman said.

She’s sold her pies at Macomb’s farmers’ market all these years.

This year Carman’s baking enterprise is feeling a bit of a pinch from inflation.

It’s not just the cost of fruit and other ingredients that’s gone up, but the cost of the containers she sells her baked goods in, too.

“It adds up,” Carman said.

Now Carman’s peach, blueberry, mixed berry, and apricot pies are selling for $13 each, which is a slight increase.

She said she probably should have gone higher to cover the extra costs.

“But I just don’t like to raise it too much,” Carman said.

A guide to area farmers' markets

If you wanted to, you could find a farmers' market just about any day of the week in the tri states.

Here's Tri States Public Radio's guide to farmers' markets in the region.

Burlington
4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, May through October. Downtown along Jefferson Street.

Carthage
9 a.m. to noon Mondays, mid-May through mid-October. Northwest corner of courthouse square.

Fort Madison
4 to 9 p.m. Mondays, June through September. Central Park.

Keokuk
8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, May through October. River City Mall parking lot, 300 Main St.

Galesburg
8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May through October. Downtown near the corner of Simmons and Seminary streets.

Macomb
7 a.m. to noon Thursdays, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, May 19 through Oct. 25. Downtown in Chandler Park.

Monmouth
5 to 7 p.m. Fridays, June through September. Fortress Bank parking lot, 300 block of North Main Street.

Montrose
4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, May through September. Riverfront Landing, 201 N First St.

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