The Farmer's Market has completed its 22nd season in downtown Lawrence.
With Old Man Winter on the way, vendors at the Lawrence Farmer's Market packed up and went home.
Saturday marked the last selling day of the season. Fewer than half of the regular vendors' slots were occupied, and bundled-up customers reached for a last purchase of potatoes, chili peppers and soap.
"It's been a pretty good year," mushroom vendor Alan Terry said.
Terry has been selling shiitake mushrooms at the market for the past four years.
"We like growing mushrooms and needed a place to sell them," he said. "It's a good way to get people familiar with shiitake mushrooms and a way of spreading the word."
Despite abundant crops of apples and corn, the market had fewer customers this year than last, manager Carol Thrasher said.
"In general the vendors thought that sales were down," she said.
To find out why, Thrasher conducted a survey, and more than half of the respondents cited the absence of one popular vendor as a major factor.
Don Flory sold sausage at the market but left when health department regulations required him to distribute his product in an enclosed area.
"I'm encouraging people to contact their state legislator," Thrasher said. "It's the only way I know to impact the health department."
Thrasher attributed slow Tuesday and Thursday sales with inadequate parking. To combat that problem she will leave part of the lot dedicated to the market open for parking next year.
For vendors Bruce and Mary Jo Mensie, the end of the season is really the beginning. They've already started planning for next year.
"We talk about what we did right and what we didn't do right," Mary Jo Mensie said. "A lot of vendors already have sent orders in."
The Mensies began selling hot and sweet peppers and spices at the market nine years ago.
"We started with a 50 (foot) by 50 (foot) garden," Bruce Mensie said. "It got out of hand."
The garden now measures three-fourths of an acre and has an overhead irrigation system.
For now, though, the Mensies get a little bit of a break before harvesting another crop next spring. They'll work part-time jobs to get through the winter.
"It was a pretty good season," Mary Jo Mensie said.
The farmer's market reopens the second Saturday in May.
-JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.