Weekends in Wrangell are often filled with bazaars, flea markets, and bake sales, but something Wrangell has never had is a consistent farmers market. Recently a public meeting was held to begin discussing the logistics of developing a regular farmers market in town and what the community would like to see offered, by both producers and consumers.
“I’m actually looking to eventually grow some food so I just wanted to hear what everyone else was thinking to see if we could get something going or not.” That’s local Catherine Ivy; she says she would like to see a market develop in Wrangell as both a place to buy things as well as sell.
Facilitating Thursday night’s meeting was Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore. Rushmore says the community meeting was great starting point for discussion of what a farmers market could look like in Wrangell.
“We have had good responses from producers. But the discussion last night was very good in the sense that the market could be more that just for produce but something that grows over the years and creates more opportunities for local folks,” she says.
Some ideas of what could be offered at the market include the sale of local produce, baked goods, fresh seafood, as well as information booths for events going on in the community. But the number one question for many was how the market will be managed. At Thursday’s meeting a steering committee was started to begin looking at aspects such as management and creating a business plan.
“This sort of core group can identify how to manage the market to understand what the rules are, and then figure out location. The key is to figure out what kind of management the community wants from a farmers market here in Wrangell,” she says.
Locals Catherine Ivy and Dan Trail both say with the right planning, the market could be a big hit and possibly spur local produce production and commerce in the community.
“It sounds like it might work just as well as the community garden worked, community members giving time to get something going,” she says. Dan wonders whether the lack of farmers will affect the market. “I kind of wonder about it because we don’t have a lot of farmers around but on the seafood side things might get going, who knows people might start growing more. And if a green house is developed in town people will be able to grow earlier in the season,” he says.
Currently Amber Al-Hadad is working to develop and distribute a community wide survey to gain a better understanding of what the public wants from a local market. So far over 60 people have completed the survey and Al-Hadad says it looks like there’s an interest from both potential consumers and local producers.
“From the information we have right now there are a lot of people interested in seeing a farmers market develop, and what I know about Wrangell is that there are a lot of talented people here who make a lot of their own products, but the question will be if they have enough excess of the product to sell,” she says.
On November 7th there will be a community meeting at the Nolan Center for the steering committee as well as the general public to begin discussing and planning a management plan for the market as well as gather more public input on the project. For more information on the survey or meeting you can contact Amber Al-Hadad at 907-874-3494.
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