Sprout! Digging Strong Roots in Community

Sprout!, the food hub located in downtown Springfield, has a year-round farmers market, but Sprout! is much more than even that. And that’s reason to celebrate: Its one-year anniversary party will begin at 3 pm Friday, Oct. 18, at 4th and A. St., and the celebration is expected to continue deep into the night.

Sprout! has become something of a community events center, with concerts and film screenings in addition to food classes and an overall goal of promoting sustainable agriculture, all under the umbrella of the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO).

“The goal of our market is not to just be a farmers market,” says Micah Elconin, Sprout! program coordinator. “We want to embed it in Sprout!’s broader mission, which is to support the growth of businesses and to be a community resource.”

The anniversary festivities include food carts, a beer garden, free culinary workshops and pedal-powered concerts featuring The Shed Shakers and Goshwood. Marché, Noisette Pastry Kitchen, Koffee Rite, Red Wagon Creamery and Falling Sky Brewery will hold workshops.

Sprout! is currently home to 14 ongoing kitchen tenants, but, according to Elconin, there have been dozens of one-time users as well. Sprout! is also home to food carts that bolster a farmers market called Marketplace@Sprout! that sells a variety of vegetables, meats, cheeses and nuts during the fall and winter months.

“We offer hands-on demos on a variety of different food and gardening and even lifestyle and nutrition topics,” Elconin says. “From week to week we’ll have everything from a nutritionist giving a talk on how to integrate more veggies into your diet to somebody giving a sauerkraut demo, things like that.”

NEDCO says Sprout! is all about informing the community while trying to help small businesses get their feet wet and flourish. “What we’re excited about are the future Marché’s of the world, the people who want to start with maybe a pop-out restaurant at Sprout!,” says Ross Kanaga, Sprout!’s kitchen coordinator. “Maybe they want to start as catering and use our production facility for that.”

Whatever the case may be for its inhabitants, Sprout! has plenty to celebrate and much to look forward to in year two. “One of our slogans is ‘food grows community,’” Elconin says. “We’re using food as a strategy for increasing community. We’re trying to put that front and center.”

For more information, check out www.sproutfoodhub.org.

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