Even after working an overnight nursing shift Friday, Sabrina Weaver made sure she came to the Columbia Farmers Market the next morning.
“I come when my schedule allows,” Weaver said. “I work nights, so I came after work.”
Weaver, who learned how to start her home garden through the market, was running on just two or three hours of sleep, yet she shared the excitement of both vendors and customers during the grand opening of Columbia’s Agriculture Park on Saturday morning at Clary-Shy Community Park.
Columbia Farmers Market Executive Director Corrina Smith said she was excited to unveil the updated space, which includes the MU Health Care Pavilion, a walking trail and a playground.
“I think what we are most excited about is being back home and being open,” Smith said.
The pavilion allows the market to remain open during bad weather. Despite the humidity and fog Saturday morning, the park’s parking lot was full by 9:30 a.m., with people filing in ready to buy fresh products.
Kimie Grimm, a farmer from Rocheport, was at a stand selling fragrant lavender products. She said the new venue should help the market attract more customers.
“It’s cool to see the vendors so excited,” Grimm said. “It feels more central and back on the old stomping grounds.”
Nicole LaChapell, co-owner of Bellair Farm, has been selling her mixed vegetables, flowers and herbs at the market for the last two years.
“It’s a gathering point for the community,” LaChapell said. “I love it.”
Another vendor, Dan Kuebler, wore a big smile while selling his fermented products. As the co-founder of Sustainable Farms & Communities, established in 1998, he led the push for a permanent structure for the market.
“Twenty-seven years ago, we had the vision for this, that we needed a permanent village,” Kuebler said. “I’m excited the dream came true.”
Smith said the park will soon include a greenhouse and an outdoor classroom, both of which will be part of the first phase of construction. Phase 1 will be complete by the end of the year, according to the park’s website.
Next Saturday, the park will hold an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The farmers market’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through October. The Saturday market is open from 8 a.m. to noon.
Supervising editor is Tom Coulter.