The 12-year-old Ozark Farmers Market moved from Ozark's downtown square to Finley Farms shortly after Bass Pro Shops and its subsidiaries opened Finley Farms near the Ozark Mill. (Photo by Ozark Farmers Market)

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If spring has you yearning for garden-fresh veggies, farmers’ markets have just what you’re looking for and more.

Along with a selection of produce, meats and other goods, a visit to Christian County’s markets will include the bonus of a road trip through the countryside and the opportunity to get a sense of small-town life. 

The markets in small communities are more than places for farmers to sell their wares. They're also gathering spots where locals spend time catching up with their neighbors, and where strangers quickly become friends.

In 2024, Christian County has more to offer when it comes to farmers' market shopping, including a new market in Ozark and new location for the market in Sparta.

Downtown Ozark Market Days

Opening for the season on April 27, this brand new market will fill the historic square in Ozark with vendors selling a variety of goods ranging from produce to antiques. The market will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the fourth Saturday of each month April through September. 

Kristin Jackson, one of the organizers, said the 4C Sertoma club started the market because people missed having one on the square where the Ozark Farmers Market used to take place.

“The public in Ozark has wanted a market on the square since it left,” Jackson said. “We’re hoping this is more of a community market than a farmers’ market.”

Along with farmers, crafters and artisans, vendors who sell vintage goods and items similar to what’s found at a swap meet will be allowed to sell, Jackson said.

While the Sertoma club hopes the market makes a profit for the organization to distribute to charities it supports, the real goal is to create a fun gathering where people can enjoy music, get to know one another and hang out in downtown Ozark.

Ozark Farmers Market

The Ozark Farmers Market is open 3-7 p.m. each Thursday beginning May 16 at Finley Farms in Ozark.

Food trucks and live music are part of the scene at the Ozark Farmers Market. (Photo by Ozark Farmers Market)

Food trucks, produce, meats and everything else you expect can be found alongside the gardens, coffee shop and restaurant at Finley Farms.

Christian County resident Bill Achor said he’s looking forward to the market opening for the season for himself and for senior citizens.

Achor shops at the market for fresh produce for the senior centers in Ozark and Nixa every week. He pays for the food using money from the Christian County Senior Services Fund, an assistance program for the county's older population.

“This is your tax dollars at work for something good,” Achor said.

For many of the seniors who go to the centers, the fresh produce gives them more nutritious and tasty food than they would otherwise have, Achor said.

“They physically can't get there or can’t afford it,” said Achor who serves on the board of the Ozark Senior Center.

Besides that, going to the market every week is fun.

“Depending on the time of day and other things, I’ll have afternoon coffee and shoot the breeze,” he said, laughing.

Nixa Area Farmers Market

The farmers market in Nixa is open 8 a.m.-noon each Saturday, except for May 21 when the annual Sucker Days festival takes over the town.

This local grower/producer market is on the Nixa Assembly of God parking lot at the corner of Missouri Highway 14 and Main Street. Everything sold at the market is produced by local farmers, artisans, and crafters.

Sparta Farmers Market

The market in Sparta is in a new location two miles from where it was on Missouri Highway 14. 

For Elizabeth and Derek Kern, owners of Kern’s Farm near Sparta and parents of three kids ages 5, 6 and 8, the Sparta Farmers Market is more than a place to pick up the produce they don’t grow themselves. They sell fresh produce and homemade jellies, jams and pickles at the Sparta Farmers Market to supplement their income.

“During the summer the market is very important,” Elizabeth Kern said. “It helps my family with our bills and to keep the farm going. It’s also something that our family enjoys doing.”

Billings Farmer’s Market in the Park

The farmers’ market in Billings is open 9 a.m.-noon each Saturday June 8-Sept. 28 at the city park, 201-299 W. Howard Ave., except for June 29 and Aug. 31.

Christine Williams, park board president in Billings, said the market is one of many events offered at the city park. The purpose is to create a community get-together and boost the local economy. 

“We want to pull the community together,” Williams said. “We want to provide a service for the community. We’ve had a lot of people ask for this.”

This will mark the third year for the market that draws about a dozen vendors who sell a variety of produce, fresh foods and other goods.

Proceeds from the event go back into promoting it and helping to support the park.

“We’re just trying to make the city the best we can,” Williams said.

Susan Wade

Susan Wade’s career includes nine years at the News-Leader in Springfield where she covered various topics, including Christian County, Greene County, higher education and many others. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism and a master’s degree in communications from Missouri State University. She is a lifelong resident of southwest Missouri. Email her at More by Susan Wade