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Thursday, May 31, 2012

10 Ways You Can Help the Emporia Farmers Market

The month of June means the Emporia Farmers Market is in full swing with twice weekly markets and more vendors than ever before. All markets take place in the parking lot at 7th & Merchant. Saturday markets start at 8:00 AM and Wednesday markets start at 5:00 PM. Shoppers are encouraged to come early for the best selection.

The Emporia Farmers Market is run by an all-volunteer board of directors and one part-time employee. We rely on community members – market farmhands – to run the market kiosk, check vendors in and out, as well as host market events and fundraisers. Have you ever wondered how you can help the Emporia Farmers Market?

1. Shop the market. The easiest, most obvious way to support the market is to become a loyal customer. Does your schedule make it hard to come to markets? Consider organizing a “shopping coop” with your friends, neighbors or family members so that you can share shopping duties and all benefit from more fresh and local produce on your dining room table.

2. Bring a friend to the market. You can never have too many friends at the market. Offer to give your neighbor a ride to the market. Make the market the destination of your group walk or bike ride. Arrange to meet your friends at the market, then spend the rest of the morning shopping in downtown Emporia or having a cup of coffee and a chat at your favorite Emporia coffee house.

3. Buy in bulk when the harvest is ready. Think in terms of what you can store and put away for later as you shop the market. It may be best fresh, but think how good it will taste this winter when you are still eating market tomatoes or green beans from a local farmer’s garden. Learn to can or brush up on techniques of freezing and dehydrating. Make a second round at the market after the peek shopping hour has passed to see if vendors are willing to let you help them clear their tables at a discount.

4. Vend at the market. We accept new vendors year-round. If you grow it, make it, or bake it yourself, you are welcome to join the Emporia Farmers Market as a vendor. View our vendor regulations on the website or contact the market manager for details.

5. Volunteer at the market. We are always looking for more farmhands to help run the kiosk throughout the growing season. Volunteers come early to set up signs and check in vendors to the market. They then help shoppers by answering questions and running the electronic benefits machine. At the end of market, volunteers collect vendor reports and exchange coupons and tokens. Volunteering is a fun way to interact with your community and an excellent way of getting to better know the hands that feed you.

6. Schedule your non-profit, community organization to host a hot food fundraiser at the market. Invite your friends and supporters to your fundraiser and we will give them an introduction to the market at the same time.

7. Host an event or activity at the market. The market is actively seeking community oriented events to be held at the market. Cooking demonstrations, presentations on gardening, and other lifestyle improvement topics are at the top our list for events to be held at the market. We are also happy to add fun events (Zucchini races, anyone?) and contests to our schedule. In exchange for hosting an event at the market, we are happy to share word of your business in our newsletters, press releases and social media.

8. Share your musical talents at the market. We are always looking for talent to add to our pool. If you are interested in providing live music at the market, we would love to hook you up with our market music coordinator.

9. Help us share news and events through social media outlets. Every time you receive a newsletter from the market or hear about a new product at the market, hit share. Tell everyone you know you are shopping at the market. Better yet, let them know about the great products you purchase and take home!

10. Spread the word about market resources and promotions. Talk with the market manager or review our newsletters and website to learn about the special promotions the market participates in. Make sure all the eligible seniors you know are aware that most Emporia Farmers Market vendors participate in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and that the market is a place where they can spend their vouchers. If you know families receiving state food assistance benefits, let them know that they can double their dollar by shopping the farmers market. Involve your business or community organization in the promotion of our
market money give-away program to encourage families with children to shop the market. We are always looking for new ways to reach our community members.

The Emporia Farmers Market manager, Tracy Simmons, can be reached at 620-343-6555 or email To view the market website, visit