By Terrah Baker
It’s that time in Spring many have been waiting for — the opening of the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. The vendors are ready and this year is looking like another award winner for the small staff and board of the market, with new products and a little something for everyone.
Choosing vendors is the first step for market coordinators. Working within a four county area — Washington, Benton, Madison, Carroll — the staff and board of the market choose from applicants looking to get a slice of the Fayetteville square pie. The applicants specify what type of vendor they’d like to be — producer, food vendor, or arts and crafts — and the market board looks at how local they are, their business model and the uniqueness of their product, among other things. There are 70 spots available on the square, and currently 105 vendors, so the board has to be selective.
“That works because people will have products for a short period of the year or at the height of summer, which allows other vendors to come and sell. We don’t want to go too far over that so everyone has a chance to sell at the market,” said Vendor Coordinator Teresa Maurer.
Maurer performs initial site visits to see how the farmers are growing, and to ensure what’s representated on their application is accurate. The market admits all types of vendors, from medium to large farmers, or small organic farmers, to popsicle and BBQ vendors. But whatever they sell, stipulations are that it must be local when possible, and unique to the market so competition is low and variety high. Their product list continues to expand this year with products from current and new producers, with several new vendors still under review at this time.
With the vendors mostly set, Maurer and Business Coordinator Leann Halsey are preparing for the crowds. Fayetteville Farmer’s Market opened up Block Street in the middle of the season last year and are continuing with the expanded street option. With the extra space, the market will have a new food truck vendor on Block Street.
The sounds of the market will once again include local musicians and other street performers, along with other entertainment from face painters and artisans. Non-profit Organizations are also drawn to the market, as they’re provided the opportunity to set up once a season to give exposure to their outreach or cause.
The EBT/SNAP, WIC and senior vouchers programs will also continue, where assistance recipients can use their dollars to purchase fresh produce or plants for their own home gardens. Part of a grant from last year will continue the markets’ Double Dollars program on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday — the market matches SNAP benefits up to $20 per market — for several more months. To take advantage of these options, see market staff the day of the market, before you start shopping.
The market will open on April 5 from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. for its official opening day of 2014 on the Fayetteville Square. It will run every Saturday until Nov. 22, with Tuesday and Thursday markets open after April 8 until Oct. 30, from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., also on the square. Sunday market has a new home starting on May 6, until Oct. 26, at the Jefferson Center Playground at 612 S. College Ave., open from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Rain or shine, the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market is finally back! For more information, visit www.fayettevillefarmersmarket.org.