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Posted on May 13, 2017

Farmers market organizers race toward opening day

The organizers of a Quincy farmers market are charging ahead with their ideas for a twice-a-month event at Lauzier Park, backed by vocal and enthusiastic local supporters.
Chelsea Putnam, Micaiah McCreary and Sonia Padron are leading the charge toward opening day on Saturday, June 3, all three motivated by the question: “Why doesn’t Quincy have a farmers market?”
They formed a committee and presented their ideas and request for support at a meeting of the Quincy City Council on March 21. They got the support they wanted and needed from the city, and on May 3, they held a public meeting of their own, inviting potential vendors, to discuss plans and answer questions.

Micaiah McCreary, left, Chelsea Putnam, center, and Sonia Padron at the Grant County Fire District No. 3 hall on May 3 answered questions about the farmers market they plan to open.
Photo by Dave Burgess/Post-Register

There were lots of questions – and suggestions – at the public forum. There were 22 people in attendance, seated at tables in the fire department conference room in Quincy, and many had pointed remarks and ideas about what they were looking for in a farmers market and how to run a successful one.
Questions and comments were wide-ranging and detailed, touching on subjects including permits, foot traffic, live music, traffic congestion at the intersection of 13th and State Route 28 (the access to Lauzier Park), security, volume of sales and fees.
Putnam said she doesn’t want fees to be piled on vendors, as she has experienced at other markets.
The organizing committee responded to everyone’s concerns. At one sticky point, Padron provided a moderating, realistic voice about arrangements and expectations: “We have to start somewhere,” and adjustments will naturally be implemented as the market develops.
The organizers said they had joined the Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce and have brought on Cari Matthews as treasurer.
“We want to be an open book” regarding management of the market, Putnam said.
Putnam, of Trinity Gardens Lavender Farm near George, and McCreary, of McCreary Real Estate in Quincy, said they don’t expect to be paid for their work on the farmers market, and the market is not going to be their full-time jobs. It is not a get rich quick scheme, Putnam said.
One attendee who had a lot to say during the meeting and was very enthusiastic about the farmers market was Tasha Hansen.
“I love it. It’s going to be unifying” for the community, Hansen said. “I think we will be surprised who will come … and we’ll see it grow.”
She has children and plans to get them involved at the market. She said it will be a great opportunity for local specialty groups, such as youth and sports groups, to raise funds.
“I love supporting local businesses. It’s really important to support each other,” Hansen said.
The idea of creating a farmers market bloomed when Putnam and McCreary met and found they had the same idea and drive. Putnam started farming locally two years ago and has sold produce at other markets.
They said they communicate really well, and since they added Padron to the mix they feel “unstoppable.”
They did get some negative feedback at first, Putnam said. But they went to the city with packets of information to hand out, showing their objectives for the market, costs and benefits, drafts of vendor agreements, forms for donations and volunteers – and they had two requests.
The farmers market committee asked the city leaders for any moral support or other support they could give, Putnam said, but specifically what was needed were two things: permission to use the park every other Saturday and to be covered under the city’s liability insurance. Both were granted.
Those hurdles are crossed, but there is a lot more to do. On May 3, the committee had received 17 application forms from potential vendors. It is seeking volunteers and donations, but the committee is going forward, not waiting for a certain level of donations before starting the market.

By Dave Burgess, qvpreditor@gmail.com

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