Have you ever heard of the Wren Thicket Market? I’m guessing that if you have, you might be interested in knowing how this quaint little market started. The following sentences hold the history of a little farm family putting one of their dreams into action and starting the market which exists today.
First of all, you must understand that this market started out as The Winter Market. In the winter of 2005 the first winter market took place. It began with two families waiting in the warmth of their vehicles for people to come and pick up vegetables and homegrown meat. They were parked in the lot of what is now Greenhouse Grille. The two families were the Dwight Wynn family, whose farm was known as Wynn Tomato Ranch, and the Mark Holloway family whose farm was Jubilee Farms. Both of these family farms sold at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market while it was open, but during the winter months they still had commodities available to sell. Wynn’s Tomato Ranch grew hydroponic tomatoes and leafy greens inside of four commercial greenhouses and Jubilee farms grew out a variety of meat animals, they needed to be able to continue selling their product to the community, so this set in motion, the roots of the Winter Market.
Candye Wynn, the individual who decided to start the Winter Market, started telling people about her aspirations for a winter market and asked people if they would be interested in something of that sort. Many people were fond of this idea, so with that she put out a sign-up sheet on her table and asked for names and emails of people who would be interested in a weekly email informing them about what would be offered that week and giving updates on how life on the farm was going. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people signed up to receive these emails. It had all the makings of being a success.
For two years these families sat in the cold waiting for people to come pick up their ordered products. After the second year Jubilee farms had to leave the winter market due to pressing business with their farm. It was during that third year that Wren Thicket Market joined the Winter Market. Debra Elam, the owner of Wren Thicket, sold all types of leafy greens, and gourmet salad mixes. Along with this she also sold kettle corn and gourds. She was a nice addition to the market.
While sitting on the tail gates of the cars one Saturday morning, Candye and Deb began discussing about how nice it would be if they were able to have the winter market indoors some place, allowing people to shop and the vendors to stay warm. They began to look around town for places that they might be able to rent at a reasonable price. After a few weeks of searching they came across the old bus depot on the south side of town. The bus depot was now owned by the Fayetteville Fire department, but they never really used it for anything. A couple of calls were made and it was set! The Fire department had allowed the winter market to sell out of the old bus depot. This really gave the little market a boost in sales and also allowed for a few select members to join the Winter Market. Within that year Dickey Farms, AA Farm and Across the Creek Farms joined the Winter Market.
With the Market being in the old bus depot, it now opened possibilities for selling out of it during the summer months. And this is exactly what happened. On Wednesdays the Wynn’s, Debra Elam, and the Dickeys would set up and sell produce at the bus depot. A new addition was also a CSA program offered by Wynn’s Tomato Ranch. CSA is the abbreviation for Community Supported Agriculture. In this program customers pay for so many months of vegetables in advance and the producer delivers weekly around twenty-five dollars of vegetables that they have available that week. This program opened up so many possibilities. The first year around ten people signed up for this program, but by the second year the word had got around and over forty people had signed up for the CSA. In fact, Candye Wynn had to shut down the sign-up for the program because she could only take a limited amount of people. It was quite a hit.
Unfortunately, this wonderful adventure ended prematurely for Wynn’s Tomato Ranch, in 2009 the economy fell and the amount of money coming in to the family farm did not equal the amount of the money going out of the farm. In September of 2010 the Wynn family uprooted and moved to West Texas where God has continued to bless this family and where they also are taking up farming again after healing from their loss and embracing the resting period provided to them.
With tearful eyes and hurting heart, Dwight and Candye Wynn gave the Winter Market to Debra Elam to continue providing people a place to sell their winter produce. Debra changed the Winter Market to Wren Thicket Market and continued to expand the market. Now the market consists of around twenty-two vendors who sell a variety of produce and crafts.
If you would be interested in receiving the Wren Thicket Market weekly emails, stop by the old depot on South College on Saturday mornings or email Debra Elam at [email protected]
Some of the current vendors are Across the Creek Farm, Horn Family Farm, Figgieville, Wren Thicket Gardens, Mama Carmen’s Coffee, A&A Orchards, White River Creamery, Dickey Farm, Ozark Pasture Beef, Alice Kennedy Designs (Jewelry), Green Form Farm, Round Mountain Farm, Ten Bears Farm, and Crystal Flame Custom Candles. Pay them a visit. You won’t regret it.
If you’ve been a Fayetteville resident for quite some time and have never heard of the the Wren Thicket Market, I’m happy to have introduced you to such a great local place to shop for fresh produce. If you’re relocating to our area, plan to get on Deb’s email list and look forward to Arkansas grown fruits and vegetables! If you’re visiting you should plan to pick some up to take home to enjoy. There’s nothing like it!
If you’re interested in buying or selling real estate in Northwest Arkansas,
contact me, Jill Bell, for more information.