Tobias Kroek’s eyes are slightly bloodshot. Surrounded by mounds of pastries, the German man is quick with a smile as customers eye his fried cheese cake and razzleberry tarts. He has stayed up all night baking, and his small stand at the Cache Valley Gardner’s Market is abuzz with activity.
Around him the environment is intoxicating. Families and farmers alike stroll through the square. The air is heavy with the smell of tamales, freshly baked artisan bread and the occasional whiff of bacon cooking. Ears of corn sit stacked by the hundreds, surrounded by tomatoes, green peppers, okra and freshly caught trout. As people mill around Pioneer Park in Logan, it’s clear that Utah’s oldest farmers’ market is in full swing.
Decked out in blue denim overalls and carrying a wicker basket full of fresh vegetables, Debra Smith exemplifies the stereotypical farmer. As she sits down at a picnic bench to rest from her shopping, Jackie Christensen, her friend of 25 years, sits down next to her, a homemade taco in hand. “It’s the best party in town,” said Smith, a veteran market goer. Both Smith and Christensen visit the market faithfully Saturday mornings when it opens at 9 a.m. This week their basket is filled with bunches of spinach, carrots, beets and basil.
“It’s so wonderful. Everything is clean-grown and fresh,” said Smith. “I love the atmosphere and the community aspect.”
On the other side of the market is Maryann Montour with a pair of quick hands and a shining roll of copper. Her fingers braid together strands of the thin pieces of metal, twisting and contorting until a ring begins to form. Montour credits her start in jewelery making talent to a bad case of insomnia. Unable to sleep, she started crafting gemstones and copper.
“I’m quite loyal to the market because they gave me my start,” said Montour, who now sells her jewelry around the state. “I have customers that come back week after week and year after year. ”
In the seven years she’s been crafting jewelery, her hobby has turned into a full-fledged business. Her jewelery is now sold in Bear Lake, Park City, Swalt Lake and Ogden. Though she loves traveling, she said she still calls Logan home.
“This is where my heart is,” she said. “It’s fun to go to other places and meet new people and do new things in a different place, but it’s so good to be home at our little market.”
In the front of the park, 9 year-old Maddy Telford lounges in a camping chair with a plate full of paper flowers. Unlike most of the booth renters at the market, a majority of Telford’s proceeds won’t go to her, but to the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
“She feels a special connection to that place because they saved her life,” said her sister Isabel.
Last year she caught a case of common chicken pox. However, she was taken to the hospital when the illness turned into pneumonia and then into toxic shock syndrome. Eventually, she went into respiratory failure, where doctors had to give her CPR. Wanting to give back, Maddy came up with the idea of selling ceramic plates and paper flowers.
“She has so many good ideas to help others,” said Telford’s mother, Becky. “It’s hard to keep up with your kids when they’re so good,”
Beyond the cuisine, vegetables and crafts, a day at the Logan Farmer’s Market comes down to community. As Shonie Arave walks from booth to booth, the Hyrum native stops to catch her breath. Beside her are her 2 year-old son, who dons a sun hat and a cup of apple juice, and 9 year-old daughter – lemon scone in hand.
“It’s really fun,” said Arave.” “It’s just social. You run into a lot of people you know.”
The Cache Valley Gardner’s Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through October. It is located at Pioneer Park (150 S. 200 East) in Logan.
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