The Overland Park Farmers' Market in Downtown Overland Park is a beloved destination that has been fostering community pride for over four decades. Known for its farm-to-table food, fresh produce, and diverse vendors, it has earned its reputation as one of the best farmers’ markets in the nation.
Kristina Stanley, the farmers' market manager, has played a pivotal role in transforming the market into a nationally-recognized success.
"I am an Overland Park native proud to live in and work for the City of Overland Park,” says Stanley. “In 2011, I was honored to take on the responsibility of operations oversight of this long-standing community gathering place where people seek all things local—fresh produce, artisan products, events and entertainment. It has been a privilege to serve my community and the City of Overland Park while making a difference in people’s lives."
Under Stanley’s leadership, the market has implemented innovative marketing strategies and launched successful campaigns including "Eat A Rainbow Everyday," "Buy Ugly Produce," "Savor the Season," and “BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag and Bottle." The market has also formed community-based partnerships and expanded its presence on social media.
“The Farmers' Market began 41 years ago in 1982. A group of local Downtown OP merchants wanted to bring more people to Downtown OP. The city took over the operation in 2011 from a management group, and I have overseen the operations since then. Our innovative marketing strategies set us apart from other markets and elevated the local farmers' market industry. We were among the very first markets in the country to require transparency in product labeling. My team and I have worked to foster and cultivate nearly a dozen community-based partnerships. We expanded the social media platforms, which was a huge reason for our win.”
The market's commitment to inclusivity and belonging has created a culture where vendors and staff see each other as family, not competition. This sense of community has contributed to the market's success and attracts vendors who want to be a part of this unique environment.
“Once the market culture improved, weekly attendance and interest from patrons visiting the Downtown Overland Park area blossomed. Many of Kansas City’s top chefs shop at this market to aid in the creation of seasonal dishes throughout the KC metropolitan area. Community, conservation and a healthy lifestyle begin here, and this market has forever shaped a new Downtown Overland Park.”
With over 100 vendors speaking 28 different languages, the market celebrates remarkable diversity. Visitors can explore a variety of offerings, including flowers, home goods, composting, skincare products, artisanal items and foods catering to various dietary needs.
“Bringing more awareness to all of the goods you can get at the OPFM is so important as most people think of it as just fruits and veggies, yet we offer so much more. Many also think of farmers' markets as a summer activity versus a lifestyle of supporting local. Many don’t realize we open mid April and don't close until early December, or that some vendors sell year-round. Market days are work days for vendors—this is their livelihood. Having more patrons shop all season long would greatly benefit the vendors, especially in the spring and fall when it's always a bit slower compared to summer months. Teaching people to eat seasonally takes time and effort.”
The Overland Park Farmers' Market enters the prestigious American Farmland Trust Contest each year, which highlights the important role farmers' markets play in communities across the nation while celebrating the farmers, staff and volunteers that make it happen. They received the highest number of votes among the 7,000 participating markets nationwide, winning first place.
“It is an honor and privilege to win America's Favorite Market. It is an award that I'm proud to say is truly a community award. Market staff and more than 100 vendors serve this community making a difference in people's lives every week. People love this market and recognize the value we offer this community. Downtown OP has become a destination spot that offers unique experiences and a hot spot for people to live, work and play. The Overland Park Farmers’ Market is the focal point and heart of this vibrant and diverse neighborhood where all are welcome—it has an exceptional reputation with a commitment to its mission, vision and core values. Staying true to this behind the scenes is the product of an excellent market with passionate vendors, loyal shoppers and dedicated staff.”
Welcoming 200,000 visitors annually, the 2023 season brings exciting improvements, including an expanded layout, additional space between stalls, ample parking, and nearby restrooms, all aimed at enhancing the shopping experience. The Overland Park Farmers' Market is located at 7950 Marty Street and is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Article by Allison Swan
Photography by Janie Jones
Originally published in Leawood City Lifestyle