Starting a Community Farmers Market-Part Two

This is part of an ongoing series; Heather Jones shares her first-hand experiences as she attempts to bring a farmer’s market to her small rural community of Woodbine, New Jersey, population: 2800.

Who knew it could be this hard?

heather jonesYou guys know the expression that “Time is of the essence”. Well I’m starting to think that maybe time isn’t on my side with this venture. I’m not sure if it’s because the summer season is now in full swing and people would much rather be at the beach than discussing business but I can’t seem to connect with my local officials about establishing a community Farmers Market. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way giving up. If I can’t get things up and running for a late summer start you better believe in summer 2010 the Farmers Market will be on the map. I received my planning packet from the State Dept of Agriculture and reviewed the guidelines as previously discussed with them over the phone about what is needed in order to have a successful Community Farmers Market:

  1. Community Attitude – desires, needs, and needed support
  2. Interested Produce Growers
  3. Site Selection – One that is accessible to Farmers and Consumers, Ample parking, sufficient room for adequate display, security, of course.
  4. Potential consumers – The total population of the community, county, and surrounding area. Making sure you have adequate publicity to inform the public.

Having researched and put together a presentation covering all of these bases I am ready to move forward and meet with the Mayor and Municipal council so that I can form my committee, touch base with the Dept of Ag and get rolling on this thing. But I can’t get to the Mayor.

Technically I don’t have to go through the Mayor I could just have myself put on the Borough Council agenda for their next monthly meeting and present to them directly (after all I do have an uncle who is a councilman) but in my small town and like so many small towns across the country the council won’t go for anything if the Mayor hasn’t already been informed and is on board with it. It’s just so frustrating because I know this is going to be a great thing for my community and this final step in preparation was supposed to be the easy part, a sure thing. I am on a first name basis with this man; he went to High School with Mom (and had a massive crush on her). I went to elementary school with his son; he came to my wedding for God sakes. But every time I call his office to schedule an appointment, his secretary who reminds of but is not as friendly as Aunt Bea from Andy Griffith informs me that he is “UNAVAILABLE”.

Last time I spoke with Aunt Bea she told me that he is very anxious to discuss my “great idea” with me but probably won’t be able to fit me in until after the 4th of July Holiday. I’m trying not to take it personally and truly want to believe that he is getting these messages but sometimes I got to wonder. So there you have it folks, I’m stuck…by small town bureaucracy. But as soon as I have my “Big” meeting you guys will be the first to know. In the meantime I am thoroughly enjoying all of the other Farmers Markets available to me in relatively close proximity to my home (over 20 miles away but under 50) and I hope you are too. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS!

See Related Post: Starting a Community Farmers Market

Next week: : Gardening Failures! This years Victory Garden is not so victorious – Find out what happened and learn from my mistakes.

Heather Jones is a wife, mother, freelance food writer, and graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has worked for Gourmet Magazine, TV Personality Katie Brown, and the New York based Indian-fusion restaurant Tabla. Heather resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. She is a strong supporter of the Sustainable Food Movement and believes that education is the key to making a difference.


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