Farmers market planning more changes

Board members report productive 2014 season
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Leader Photo by Jason Arndt Matt Hendricks, director of the Shawano Parks and Recreation Department, explains the long-term vision of Franklin Park, the site of the Shawano Farmers Market, to about 25 people at the eighth annual farmers market board meeting Thursday at Angie’s Main Cafe.

There will be more reasons for families to attend the Shawano Farmers Market this season.

Officials announced at the organization’s eighth annual meeting Thursday that they will add weekly activities for children.

The meeting was held at Angie’s Main Cafe in Shawano and attracted about 25 people.

“Families come to the market and they have children, and the kids always want to do something. The parents want to visit. What are the children going to do,” said Bob Dumke, farmers market board vice president.

Jamie Patton, the University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture agent for Shawano County, will be responsible for coordinating the weekly activities.

The offerings will include presentations by the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and the Navarino Nature Center. There will also be a magician and a dog show.

“We are looking forward to bringing in new and younger families to the park, so we can capitalize on this beautiful green space, and help promote health in our youth,” Patton said.

Patton added that she is open to more ideas.

2014 was a year of change for the market, which was held in the City Hall parking lot for its first six years before moving to Franklin Park, at the corner of Division and Washington streets, in June.

More long-term changes that could help the market are planned at the park, including a playground, stage, water fountain and green space, but Shawano Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks speculated the work likely won’t be completed for five to seven years.

“It will happen as fast as the community supports us,” Hendricks said.

Market coordinator Nathan Falk said previously the move helped the market attract more customers and vendors than in previous years.

The market depends on donations, grants and vendor booth fees. Expenses include items such as operations and site improvements, market management, insurance, advertising, and community outreach.

“It was a pretty good year,” said Jennifer Langlois, board treasurer. “Our total revenue was $10,700, and our total expenditures was $9,500.”

The nonprofit organization this year received a $3,500 matching grant from Harold E. Pevonka estate, which combined with fundraising efforts that raised $3,685 in contributions from Oct. 20 through Dec. 31, earned the market $7,185.

Other discussion topics included a new $200 card reader that will enable Women, Infants and Children FoodShare recipients to use their Quest Cards to obtain wooden tokens that can be used for market purchases.

Sue Hansen, outreach specialist for the Shawano County WIC program, told the 14 vendors at the meeting that the county plans to stop issuing paper checks effective Dec. 31, 2015, and instead use Quest Cards.

Falk urged this year’s vendors to participate in the Certified Local Vendor program. The program is open to producers within 100 miles of Shawano.

“We will give you signage promoting your business,” Falk said.

The market board also added a new mission statement: “The Shawano Farmers Market nurtures our community’s health in social and economic growth, by providing a vibrant marketplace for the local food producers.”

The 2015 market will run Saturdays, from June 20 through Oct. 10.