History of the Carbondale Farmers’ Market
Written by Lorene Lingle in 2010
The Carbondale Farmers Market developed from a conference sponsored by the Hunger Action Program of the United Church of Christ. Early in 1975, Dave Ostendorf, Roz Ostendorf, Mike Schechman and Sandra Leitner attended a two-day conference sponsored by the Hunger Action Program. Following the conference, Roz Mike and Sandra met in the dining room of Sandra’s home to discuss a variety of options in organizing a local farmers market and the group decided to proceed with the formation of the Carbondale Farmers Market.
Dave, Roz, and Mike were the staff and the founders of the Illinois South Project in Herrin, an agency advocating for the responsible stewardship of our earth’s resources. The name and location of this agency have both changed.
Initially, a number of farmers were unenthusiastic and skeptical about the formation of the market. In the first year of operation the market had about five farmers selling their produce. By the second year the attitudes of many farmers changed from skepticism to enthusiastic support.
Originally the farmers market board of directors consisted of Dave Ostendorf, Roz Ostendorf, Mike Schechman, Mike Grady, Sandra Leitner, Mike San Fillippo, Janet Smith and Polly Thompson. By the end of 1977, the board grew to include Grover Leech, Jenny Jaros, John Smith, Henry Lingle and Mike Wagner.
Henry Lingle and his family are the only farmers who originally participated in 1975 and are currently participating in selling at the market.
The market has had four locations. First it began in the parking lot across from Dillinger’s Feed Store. Second is was located at the SIU Parking lot on Southern Illinois Avenue and Grand. Third it moved to an SIU parking lot south of the SIU Arena. The fourth and current location is at the parking lot located in the Westowne Centre Mall.
This is our 35th year open Saturday 8 am to 12 pm – rain or shine. Open through November.
The market features locally grown produce, fruits, plants, flowers, baked goods, beef, canned goods, woodworking, pet products, crafts, jewelry, honey and more.
We have guidelines to go by, also officers. Our market manager is Ann Stahlheber.
Customer and Comunity Commitment
Community outreach is a key component of the market, too. For years the Good Samaritan Ministries Food Pantry (Good Sam) and the market have enjoyed a solid relationship. Every week once the growing season has taken off, volunteers from Good Sam walk up and down the aisle of the market placing empty boxes in front of the farmers’ spaces. The farmers then fill up the boxes with surplus produce they didn’t sell. Over the years, countless thousands of pounds of fresh produce have been delivered to the pantry – a welcome and healthy departure from the usual selection of boxed, canned and highly processed perishables.
The market also offers an annual $500 scholarship to a Carbondale High School senior who enrolls in SIUC’s Department of Agriculture. There is a new Earth Day tradition for market growers to donate plants to outfits like Mustard Seed Sowers Farm Community Garden, the Children’s Masonic Home in Murphysboro and the Somerset Clovers 4-H Garden at the U of I Extension Office in Murphysboro
The Farmers' Market of Carbondale offers a diverse group of farmers from Southern Illinois. We have multi-generational farmers, ecological growers and USDA Certified Organic farmers as well.
Carbondale Farmer's Market has 26 seasonal vendors that bring fruits, veggies, meats and arts to the market every Saturday from April through November, rain or shine.
Check in occasionally to read profiles about some of our seasonal grower.