As I've met new people, shared my story, and gotten more involved in my community, I've noticed something quite amazing - a serious percentage of our local population doesn't even know that we have a farmers' market. What?!? No!
Well, that did it. Ever since, I've been on a mission to spread the good news about the Brazos Valley Farmers Market. Not only have I managed to bring it up in just about every conversation I've had in the last three months; not only do I now host an informational booth at our Saturday morning farmers' market complete with brochures and handouts about eating locally; but I am actively founding a brand new non-profit called the "Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers' Market" or "Friends" for short.
My primary goal is to have a booth at every festival and fair in town to educate the public about the farmers' market, but I also want to get the community involved in our market - volunteering to host booths, putting together fund-raisers, coordinating special events like music, art, and cooking demonstrations on market days, etc. One thing we're not short on is ideas!
But starting a new organization, it turns out, is a paperwork nightmare so I'm not quite ready to accept paid memberships. Of course, that doesn't mean we've been idle. I've been working with the farmers' market to update their website and am also providing their weekly market update; I've launched the "Friends" website where you can get the latest info about the group's activities; I'm working with one of our volunteers to print our logo on reusable bags to be sold at cost on market days and at festival booths; I'm coordinating a number of special events to feature our farmers market vendors; I've signed up for upcoming events where I'll host an informational booth promoting the market; I've spoken with 9 individuals interested in becoming vendors at our market; I've met with a local grocery (Village Foods) and hooked them up with local producers (many of which are from our farmers' market); and I'm working with one of our volunteers to sew cloth napkins (to replace the ones that disappeared) for the Village Cafe, a big supporter of our market. Pshew! I'm tired just thinking about all that work!
Needless to say, it's been an exciting journey so far. One that has already proven rewarding. There's still much work to be done, but I can already see the difference as our vendor numbers continue to grow, new people come to the market each week, and community members actually come to me to ask for our participation in their festivals. The word is out; the community is ripe for change; and little-ole-reclusive me is actually leading the charge. The adventure has only yet begun!