March 29, 2014 10:32:41 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Bob Elder likes to make things. He really can't help it. A creative mind and mechanical engineering background combine to inspire his industry. Lately, Elder has had birds on his mind. Birds, and the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market that will open for Saturdays in April from 7 to 10 a.m. beginning April 5. Since January, he's been busy recycling pretty vases, saucers, plates and ceramic birds into patio birdbaths he'll sell at the market at Second Street and Second Avenue North in Columbus.
Elder is just one of the many artisan vendors and produce growers eager for the new season to get underway at the community gathering place.
"I'm glad it's that time of year for the market to open up," said Elder, adding that he enjoys chatting with shoppers and other vendors. "I have a really good time relating to and talking to people. I don't meet any strangers there."
Unique and petite, Elder's birdbaths are cheerful accents to patio gardens and outdoor tabletops. They range in size from about 8 to 13 inches and, in price, from $20 to $30.
The idea for them sprang from birdbaths his son in Oklahoma City, Okla., saw at a charity sale; they sold for $100 or more. Elder knew he could do better. A stop at a thrift store in Conway, Ark., on a road trip supplied the spark.
"I saw all these dishes and stuff, and that inspired me," recounted Elder. "I came home and went to the Palmer Home Thrift Store and, over a couple of months, kept buying things I thought were pretty -- plates, saucers, vases, ceramic birds. I looked for things that are colorful, and for colors that would go together."
Elder fits his designs together with a strong, waterproof epoxy. He's proud that each birdbath is created from recycled items.
"Once I got started making them, I was having so much fun I couldn't quit," he laughed. That led to a small problem; his wife, Angela, decreed the house couldn't hold any more. So Elder is ready for market. And the farmers' market is ready for Elder.
"We're excited to welcome vendors back," said Rebecca Favre, office assistant at Main Street Columbus, which oversees the market. As the growing season advances, the number of vendors and amount of produce will swell. A grand opening May 10 will signal the start three-day-a-week markets: Mondays 4-6 p.m., Thursdays 7-10 a.m., and Saturdays 7-10 a.m.
"It's so good to get food fresh from the farm, from the ground to your table," said Favre. "And we have a lot of great things to do this season."
Some of those highlights include cooking demos, Tractor Day, Wheelbarrow Day, fun contests, informative talks and live music. See the season schedule at the market's new website, hitchinglot.org. Look for recipes, too, on tasty ways to use the fresh foods available at the Hitching Lot.
For information on how to become a vendor of things "locally grown, made or conjured up," contact Main Street Columbus, 662-328-6305, or check out the Farmers' Market link at columbusmainstreet.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.