Friday, February 27, 2009

Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers Market

You may have noticed through the last 1o months of posts, eating challenges, and food porn that I'm a BIG fan of food (a shocker, I know), and more specifically, the local food movement. Now, I've never been much of an activist by nature. I tend to be fairly shy (Fine. I'm pretty much a recluse), but as I've learned more about the food system, the benefits of eating locally, and become empowered through the changes I've made in my life; I've discovered that I have a passion for spreading the word about our farmers' market and the benefits of a local diet. Who knew? Unless you count the fact that I light up like a christmas tree every time I talk about it.

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!


GreenieJoy said...

thats awesome that you're doing that! Good luck with all the paper work and stuff :) (that stuff can be such a hassel isn't it!) But yeah, thats important that you're doing that because so many people don't know about farmers market. I've lived in the same apartment for almost 4 years and live less than 3 miles from our farmers market and just found about it about 3? months ago! (I need to find someone like you in my town to spread the word :) Keep up the good work!

hmd said...

GreenieJoy - getting the word out is definitely our biggest challenge, but we're getting there and it's so rewarding because I can see the growth. Go local! :)

Sam said...

I'm so glad you're doing this. It must be challenging if no one knows about it, but doesn't the size of Bryan help? I'm not sure how spread out the town in.

Tomorrow I'm going on a group ride that will promote two of my pet causes and I didn't even come up with the idea:
A group bike ride to show everyone how fun bicycling can be and it ends at the Farmer's Market where we support local farmers and promote eating locally. :)

Mmmm....all is well in my world and your's. Makes me so happy.

hmd said...

Beany - Thanks! I don't know if the fact that Bryan-College Station is smaller helps or not. We're growing, but we're still pretty disconnected. Thankfully the word is spreading quickly.

The bike ride sounds awesome! What a great destination. Did you get lots of goodies?

Sam said...

I did get and eat lots of goodies. A good, tasty ride is just how I like it1

EnviRambo said...

I have only been following your blog since last August, but am impressed at how much you have grown in those short six months. You seem to be really blossoming into an sustainable food leader. I think you found your calling. Good for you!

hmd said...

greeen sheeep - it seems like in the course of every day events, I manage to bring up the fact that I work with the farmers' market. As a result, new people have visited the market, info about the market has been included in weekly updates for groups around town, and I've been invited to host a booth at additional events to spread the word even more. It just keeps growing and growing...