The Northeast Farmers Market will be taking a break in 2019. Jenna Wilkins, organizer for the Farmers Market, said there were a lot of factors that went into the decision and she hopes to offer the market to residents again in 2020.
The market, formerly known as the La Chalupa Farmers Market, was located at the Mattie Rhodes Center before Wilkins took over and moved it to Independence Avenue. From 2015 to 2018, the market was located in the parking lot of the Independence Boulevard Christian Church at Independence Avenue and Gladstone Boulevard.
Wilkins said it was difficult to organize the entire event alone, without help from outside entities.
“I tried in January and February to reach out to different groups,” she said, “but the timeline for getting them on board and transitioning the market over to a new management couldn’t happen this year.”
Wilkins became familiar with the Market in 2014 when she was a vendor, selling fruits and vegetables. When the market was no longer going to be held at the Mattie Rhodes Center, Wilkins said she worked with other vendors to keep it going, which is when it was relocated to Independence Avenue.
She said it required a lot of manpower and a lot of labor to put on the market, especially on days outside of the market day, which ran every Thursday, weather permitting.
“It requires transporting all of the supplies and setting up all the tables and tents,” she said. “I was there to set up the market and tear down, which took about four hours. I would also do promotional things like posting on social media, printing and handing out flyers and posters, and managing contracts during the entire season.”
Wilkins said her goal right now is to find an organization that has the organizational capacity to take on the market for 2020. What it would require, she said, is an organization that sees the market as a public service, allowing farmers to show up, sell their goods, and benefit the community.
“My goal is to identify an appropriate organization that is willing to take on those responsibilities and provide it as a service,” she said. “I’d like to identify an organization that is familiar with the Northeast and is dedicated to celebrating all the diversity we have here and operate the market as a public good and who is also committed to the needs of the farmers that show up.”
Wilkins said there were several things that made the Northeast Farmers Market unique from other markets.
“A lot of vendors live in the Northeast and have urban farms. It was hyper-local and people would bring veggies grown within a mile of the market. A lot of our customers live directly around the market, so we didn’t attract people from around the city, most of the customers are Northeast residents. We also got a lot of consistent support, especially from Northeastminster Church in Scarritt Renaissance. They would volunteer every week to provide a kid’s activity tent. They did that for free and were there every week. It was amazing how dedicated they were.”
If you would like to contact Jenna Wilkins, or get more information on how you can help bring back the Northeast Farmers Market in 2020, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.