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By Elizabeth Lipford.

Monument Market families

Vendors offer home grown and home made items at Monument Market. Photo by Skyler Cumbia.

Monument Market, sponsored by Richmond’s First Baptist Church, began its second season May 7th in the church’s parking lot at the corner of Monument and Robinson. It is one of many regional farmers’ markets that are springing up in urban areas in response to people embracing healthier lifestyles and wanting to support local growers and businesses. However, for the FBC families involved, it is much more than providing local products. It is about being a good neighbor, running a small family business, and building new relationships.

We are “friend-raising” said Linn Kreckman, the visionary behind the market. Linn, also a vendor, as is her son John, saw the potential for bringing a market to the Fan. Through her efforts and with the support of the Recreation Team and staff facilitator Buddy Burgess, the market was launched in 2010 with the goal of connecting with the community while supplying a need.

With 90% of the customers being walk-ins, not drivers, the market quickly became a neighborhood gathering place on Saturday mornings. It is a relaxed atmosphere in which many conversations take place about happenings at First Baptist. Suzanne Acosta, site manager for the market, recalled a conversation she had with a customer who later visited the Young Adults Sunday school class. Anne Burgess, like many, often brings her dog for a stroll through the market. As she has gotten to know the customers, she has seen many participate in FBC’s Classics in the Courtyard, Upward Basketball and Indoor Soccer. For Vicky Nicholau the market is a place to raise money for FBC’s Community Missions by selling homemade Greek pastries, a sell-out every time.

For our family, and the families of Allen and Hope Cumbia and Bryan and Renee Smith, the market is also a perfect venue for a family business. In this setting we teach our children valuable lessons about hard work, customer service and economics. Michael and I see our children experience the joy of having people want to purchase things they have produced themselves, as well as the disappointment of having spent a week working hard, only to have little profit to take home. Allen Cumbia describes it as “a good family bonding time.” The Smith girls agree that learning to determine prices and make change are some of the new skills they have learned.

Monument Market families 2

Monument Market is as much a social gathering as it is a farmers' market. Photo by Anthony M. Nesossis.

Some of the vendors are also forming new relationships. Rick Nesossis, creator of eclectic birdhouses, quickly became a friend to all. New friendships also led to some creative negotiating. Our girls traded perennials for herbed oil, and the daughter of a vegetable vendor bartered fresh flowers for a necklace made by Lydia Smith. We help each other set up and clean up, and we all make our weekly purchases before we leave. Buddy Burgess says “the market reminds me of Jesus in the marketplace, talking and connecting with people.”

Good food and good lessons, making friends and connecting neighbors with the FBC family – the Monument Market is something you will definitely want to experience!

Elizabeth Lipford and her husband, Michael have been members of FBC since 1993. She home schools their three daughters, Aylett, Ellen and Mary Michael. Elizabeth has been a leader with Girls in Action and Vacation Bible School and helps with youth events throughout the year. She is a member of the Disciples Sunday school class. Currently, she is helping her daughters manage the “Lipford Family Gardens” booth at Monument Market.

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