Just because farm markets have closed for the winter doesn’t mean their owners are idle. Most Daytonians who travel North Main Street on Saturdays have noticed – or stopped by – the Farmers Market in the parking lot of Shiloh UCC church, at the corner of Main Street and Philadelphia Drive. During the summer into October, the lot is usually crowded with people searching for their favorite vegetables, fruits, baked goods, flowers and much more. But work doesn’t stop for the former and current owners of the market, and many others, during the winter months.
“Zella Cook, who owns a farm with her husband, Stephen, approached us in 1999 about using the parking lot for a farmers market on Saturdays,” said church administrator Ashley Pack.
The Cooks knew area farmers and gardeners and began recruiting a variety of vendors to set up booths in the market, which soon attracted shoppers every Saturday.
“We ran that market for 20 years, then another 10 at Wegerzyn, and decided to retire and work from home,” said Stephen. Today, he and Ella run the market at their farm, just north of New Lebanon. Their website is cooksgardennewlebanon.com.
“Now, we just have honey, but in May, we’ll start having vegetable, flower and bedding plants.” During the winter, they stay busy with machinery upkeep, ordering seeds, and making plans for next season. “We’re busy, but less busy than in the summer months, and we have time to just sit by the fireplace.”
While they had Shiloh Market, Trotwood resident Tasha Jenkins was making candles and had a booth at the Yellow Cab Company in downtown Dayton.
“Zella saw my booth at Yellow Cab and invited me to join the market,” she said. “I did, and my business really picked up there.
“In 2019, when they wanted to retire, Zella approached me and asked if I wanted to run it. I found a few friends to help, but did it myself the first year.
“We average about 15 vendors a week, maybe more, during the summer – a variety of baked goods, homemade noodles, sauces, seasonings, ceramics, flowers and seasonal foods like kale, lettuce tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, beans, a variety of peas, okra, squash, zucchini, cabbage and hot peppers. Peaches and apples are sourced through another farm, and our last few weeks we had huge pots of mums. And some weeks, we have food trucks.
“I also work at Helping Hands Farm in Trotwood and bring in produce from there.”
The market’s last day of the season was Oct. 8, the second Saturday of the month, but it will open again on the second Saturday in May. The day after the market closing, the church has an annual Pumpkin Fest through Oct. 31, with pumpkins of all sizes and shapes for sale, storytelling and other children’s activities.
And Tasha will stay busy making candles and jewelry, and coordinating the Northmont Community indoor markets inside Meadowbrook Country Club, a fall market in November and holiday market in December. “The Northmont Community Market’s Winter Market will take place on Sunday, Nov. 13, and Dec. 4 from 12 to 4 p.m. It is held in the ballroom of Meadowbrook at Clayton,” she said.
In September, she had a booth at Aullwood’s Fall Festival of her “Common Scents” candles, and had produce at Englewood’s Market. “I’ll still have a booth for my candles and jewelry at Yellow Cab during the days on Sundays, and will coordinate and have a booth at some winter events.” In April, she’ll probably return to the Bellbrook Sugar Maple Festival.
“I work with Helping Hands after the market closes, too,” she said.
To keep up with her winter markets and candles, go to her Facebook page, Tasha’s Common Scents.