Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop led by Alexa Arnold with the Community Farm Alliance. The training was specifically on how to start a Friends of the Market association or group, and took place in Pike County, KY, at the Pike County extension office.

Local farmers market vendor Doug Dudley, who is very involved in our work with Grow Appalachia, and who has helped immensely in our progress at the community garden, also traveled to the workshop with me. We both found the information to be very valuable and beneficial for the future of our market.

This type of program both directly and indirectly relates to our work with Grow Appalachia. Most of the produce grown at our high tunnels at the Williamson Community Garden is grown with the assistance of Grow Appalachia funding. After harvesting this produce it is sold at our local farmers market, and this training was aiming to strengthen markets through forming a Friends of The Market group in our community.

Currently, the Williamson Farmers Market is unincorporated, but we do have dozens of loyal volunteers and participants who I believe would be interested in joining such a group, so it is a very interesting idea to consider.

The general idea, which Alexa explained quite thoroughly and exceptionally well, is that consumers, stakeholders and other community members who are just interested in supporting their local farmers market, could combine forces and manpower to create either a nonprofit, or just a small group that would help run and sustain the market.

This group could be as small or as big as needed, depending on the size of the community. These individuals would help do things such as fundraise, plan events for the market, run an information booth, or help with other volunteer efforts such as setting up or taking down the market each Saturday

As many of you may know, there is a lot of work behind the scenes work that take place to make Farmers Markets run smoothly. Plus, we all know how important they are, as they provide an outlet for selling the product that we are all growing. As Alexa explained, a Friends group like this would be extremely beneficial in helping the market run more smoothly and to sustain itself.

I look forward to sharing the information from yesterday with our vendors and market manager this week. First market will be April 27th!  I can’t wait to share our results with ya’ll!