BY CARMEN SIERING
There’s no telling what might set someone on the career path she was meant to follow. For Marcia Veldman, coordinator of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, it was smog.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in sports science at Indiana University in 1986, Veldman moved to Los Angeles. “There were days you weren’t supposed to breathe,” she says. “It opened my eyes to what a small planet we live on and that we really need to take care of it.”
With that in mind, Veldman began working with children as an environmentalist during the school year, and returning to Bloomington during the summers to work with the Parks and Recreation Department. In 1995 she moved back here permanently. “I’ve always felt connected to this community, and I wanted to garden without drawing down aquifers to do it,” she says. “I was ready to plant roots. And fruit trees.”
When the Farmers’ Market coordinator position opened up the next year, Veldman applied for the job and got it. The market was much smaller then, and when it moved to its current location in the parking lot next to Showers Plaza a year later, “I was definitely intimidated,” Veldman remembers. This year that lot was filled with 100 farm vendors and 11 prepared food stalls.
Veldman’s activism for food justice, security, and sustainability was rewarded when she was named Bloomington’s Woman of the Year for 2013. Among her many projects, she has worked with Hoosier Hills Food Bank, where she helped establish the Meal Share food rescue program and the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry project.
As the market coordinator’s position is less than full time, Veldman is also in the business of growing food. Her Meadowlark Farm in Brown County is a small venture that enables her to sell vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers at area farmers’ markets from late summer through early spring. “I can do the market, the farming, activist work, and still have a life,” she says.
After more than 15 years of coordinating the Farmers’ Market, Veldman says she doesn’t see an end in sight. “Right now I just love what I’m doing. I think I’ll keep doing this as long as I wake up inspired by my work.”