–by Jennifer Alexander Ruple
The Sylvania Farmers Market is a wonderful venue for farm-fresh produce, artisan foods and live music, but did you know it is also a vehicle for learning about local history? Market partner, Heritage Sylvania, strives to connect the past with the present through weekly hands-on activities for all ages.
The organization’s grab-and-go bags are free to market shoppers and include supplies for projects that make learning about history fun. “We want to provide creative and engaging activities with a historical bend,” said Andi Erbskorn, executive director of Heritage Sylvania.
The idea to offer activities at the market was an extension of a program Heritage Sylvania created during the pandemic. Sarah Rupp, the organization’s education assistant, developed online, at-home learning kits. “That project was a success, so we wanted to keep it going. The market gave us another way to connect with the community. We have grandparents, adults and kids who pick up the grab-and-go bags every week,” Erbskorn explained.
Activity kits given out at the market have included a weaving project and a plant your own herbs pot. The latest bag contained a mixture of peat-free compost, clay powder and wildflower seeds to create seed bombs. The mixture is combined with water to form balls, or seed bombs. When the bombs are dry, they are placed wherever wildflowers are desired. “History is so much more than artifacts in a display case,” said Erbskorn. “In the past, you had to weave to make your clothes, dish towels and the blankets on your bed. All of these activities are important to our history, but they also tie in with today,” she added.
Each week at the farmers market part-time Heritage Sylvania staff members are onsite at the organization’s booth, located near the pavilion and music stage. Noel Barrera, a history major at Lourdes University; Tristen Turkopp, a theater major at the University of Toledo; and Katie Nowakowski, a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a masters degree in public history, are present to answer questions about the organization and local history and to hand out grab-and-go bags.
The Sylvania Farmers Market is held Tuesdays from 4 to 7 pm at Harroun Community Park across from St. Joseph Church. For more information regarding local history programs, visit heritagesylvania.org.