The Sedalia Area Farmers’ Market is growing in many ways and will open for the 2016 season Friday, May 6.
SAFM President Julie Bosse said depending on funding, the market plans to offer a Power of Produce (POP) or incentive for children that come to the market this year.
“One thing we are going to try and implement this year … is a program for the Little Sprouts,” she said. “We’ll be doing that every Friday and that’s just to get the kids more involved in buying produce. Hopefully, funding permitted, we’ll be able to give 50 cents to a $1 for every child.”
She added that the children can purchase produce or a plant that produces produce.
“It’s to get our kids more involved, because there’s so much child obesity,” she added. “We need to start them young and educate them. I think when kids have hands-on learning, then they’ll be more apt to eat the right things.
“We are working on grants for that, to hopefully get us some funding,” she added. “Ideally we would like to give $2.”
Brenda Raetz, SAFM market master, said they are hoping the program will be sponsored by the Chipotle restaurant chain.
“If we don’t get the POPs funding through Chipotle, we’ll be looking for local sponsorship,” Raetz added.
“Hopefully they will reach out,” Bosse said.
Bev Rollings, SAFM treasurer and market master, said as of this year, Raetz has become the first paid employee of the market.
“It’s so important, because it enhances the sustainability and long-term growth of the market,” she added. “We have done so many wonderful things with just volunteers, but because the market has grown so much it’s really more than what volunteers can do.”
“Basically, I’ll continue doing what I’ve been doing as a volunteer, but I’ll be available to the community and to the volunteers and to the board, to micro-manage,” Raetz said.
“She’ll continue to enhance the customer and vendor experience,” Rollings added.
New vendors have been added to this year’s market line-up.
Raetz said Sarah Morgan, of Windsor, will be at the market with fresh vegetables and eggs, along with Mary Schrock, of Lincoln, who will have baked goods.
“Common Ground in Warsaw is coming back this year as a vendor on Tuesdays,” she added. “(They will have) artisan breads and yerba mate.”
Past Times Farm, located near Lincoln, will offer baked goods and a variety of pasture-raised meats. Eifel Acres, located north of Sedalia, will also be participating this year.
Two new soap vendors at the market will be Modest Goats, of Green Ridge, and Jasper’s Soap Works, of Sedalia.
The women said on average they have 15 to 20 vendors and as many as 35.
Rollings added that May would be health care month at the market.
“We will honor all health care workers,” Rollings said. “Also new this season, we will have military and first responders dollar coupons all season. Each market day they can come to the market master tent and get a $1 off coupon with ID.”
The market is asking visitors not to bring their pets with them this year.
“There is just so many reasons, we’ve had pets clash with one another at the market,” Rollings said.
Rollings noted that pets have gotten stepped on and other pets find the flowers and other items sitting on the ground handy to use as a bathroom.
“The taller pets, their noses are the same level as the tables,” Raetz added. “It comes down to it, that it’s a (Missouri) Health Department regulation that we need to abide by. Our main focus at the market is to sell food.”
Cooking demonstrations will be taking place again one day a month at the market. SAFM volunteer Meagen Curry will host a cooking demo one day a month also.
“We’re hoping to implement the cooking demos with the kids too,” Bosse added.
Rollings said the market is working on getting grants from Agri Missouri and from the Missouri State Fair Foundation. If the grants are awarded it will be around August to October. The funds will be available for the 2017 market season.
SAFM also now has a grant writer, Brenda Bryan, who volunteered for the position.
“She retired from (State Fair Community) college last year, and she loves to write grants,” Rollings said. “She’s been helping us with that.”
Those who go to the market may find their health improving even if they don’t buy anything.
“We just posted an article about a new study that came out that said just going to a farmers’ market is good for your health,” Rollings noted. “When customers go to a farmers’ market they have on average 15 to 20 social interactions … that is really good for people’s mental health.”
Customers will find shopping convenient since the market accepts credit and debit cards, SNAP and cash.
Rollings said this is the eighth year for Bothwell Regional Health Center to contribute $1,000 in matching funds for the SNAP program. MFA also contributes to the program.
“We will be looking for other businesses or individuals to partner with us for the SNAP matching program,” Raetz said.
“We’ll match up to $10 per market day for those who qualify for SNAP,” Rollings added.
The women said they are always looking for market volunteers, musicians and vendors. Those interested may call Raetz at 281-7244.
Beginning May 6, the SAFM will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through the end of October at the Missouri State Fairgrounds main gate on U.S. Highway 65. For more information, visit the SAFM Facebook page or www.sedaliaareafarmersmarket.com.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.