County towns preparing for start of farmers markets

Marion County communities are gearing up for the 2015 farmers market season, giving people an opportunity to buy fresh and local as well as visit with friends and neighbors.

According to Teresa Huffman, county economic development director, the markets are important in providing healthy foods for those interested in having locally grown, chemical-free produce.

?It?s also an opportunity for the food entrepreneurs who wish to expand their food-producing business,? she said.

Huffman said she hopes to expand the vouchers available for older citizens at the area farmers markets.

Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator with the Marion County Department on Aging, said vouchers are available for individuals age 60 or older.

Monthly income guidelines will appear in a later issue of the Free Press. Vouchers can be used at booths that display signs stating: ?Senior farmers market nutrition program checks accepted here.?

For more information on vouchers, call 620-382-3580.

The communities of Hillsboro, Marion, Florence and Tampa are having markets, and in Peabody, N.M. Patton is the sole vendor.

Patton said the first market is from 8-10 a.m. Satur?day, May 30, at Santa Fe Park on South Walnut.

Hillsboro market

The Hillsboro Farmers Market has been around for 10 years, but this is the second year the Chamber of Commerce has sponsored it.

Lena Hall, market manager and Chamber secretary, said the committee has decided to open the market four weeks later than usual.

The first one will be from 5-7 p.m. starting May 28 and continuing through Sept. 3.

?It will run from Memorial Day to Labor Day,? she added, which will make it easier for people to remember the dates.

The market will remain at Memorial Park.

?I had several people say they enjoyed the park setting because they could talk longer and the kids could play,? Hall said.

Committee members include Lorrie Peter, Gretchen Wagner, Dick Tippin, Candy Rogers and Marion Regier.

Vendors will be able to sell their items without a booth fee.

?Typically we have baked goods,? Hall said. ?The Pen?ners are normally there with honey and a lot of people will be selling produce.?

The variety of vegetables or fruits available for sale will depend on the growing conditions.

?Sell anything? week will be offered the last Thursday of June, July and August.

Hall said recruiters will be on site July 2 to talk with anyone interested in military service, and the market will not be offered the week of the Marion County Fair.

People interested in being a vendor should stop by the Chamber office, 120 N. Main St., for a new vendor information sheet or call 620-947-3506.

?We are looking forward to another year and hopefully it won?t be as hot as last year,? she said.

Marion market

Carol Laue is this year?s coordinator of the Marion Farm and Art Market, which is from 5-7 p.m. beginning Wednesday, May 6.

?Anyone is welcome to be a vendor, free of charge,? she said.

When the market was launched, vendors were required to sell only items that were homemade or homegrown.

?We wanted to keep away from garage sales,? Laue said. ?Traditionally, we had a nice variety of people showing things, and we have one woman who specifically makes jams, jellies and salsas.?

Other regulars include a woman from Burns who brings baked items and snack mixes.

Scott Zogelman, who coordinates the Florence Farmers Market, brings plants and cooked items.

?Darlene Carlson has every kind of vegetable a person could fathom, and she has the most beautiful displays,? Laue said.

?Doug Lind…will have corn planted, and has already sold asparagus through social media, but will also sell it in the park,? Laue said.

The Farm and Art Market offers a ?nice atmosphere? backdrop for people wanting to perform in the park, according to Laue.

The Pride committee, which sponsors the market, will sell meals one week, but Laue said more groups or organizations are needed.

If interested, people can contact Laue through her Facebook page.

?I like (the market) because it?s a neat way to see people in the community that I might not otherwise run into,? she said.

Florence market

Zogelman said the Florence Farmers Market, which opened May 5, will operate from 5:30-7:30 p.m. every Tuesday until the end of September.

In years past, the market has offered plants, fresh produce, home-baked goods, authentic Mexican food, breads, pies, cookies, jams, jellies, pretzels, cheesecakes, afghans, bierrocks, jewelry and other homemade crafts.

?At the beginning, there probably won?t be much produce,? he said. ?It?s been a cool year and the gardens haven?t produced much.?

Vendors are charged a $20 fee for the entire season, which Zogelman said is lower than in previous years. All items need to be homemade or homegrown.

?The vendor?s fee is used for advertising, signs and other promotional materials,? he said.

The market is now in its sixth year.

?I try to post anything special for the current week?s market and keep customers updated on weather issues,? he said.

For more information, Zogelman said to visit https://www.facebook.com/FlorenceFarmersMarket.

Tampa market

Carole Spohn is coordinating the Tampa Farmers Market starting at 6 p.m. the first Wednesdays of May, June, July, August and Sep?tember.

The first market is May 6 at the Tampa Senior Center.

?We?ve had a market for at least five years, and maybe longer,? Spohn said. ?With the drought, our produce has dwindled, and the people who sold eggs no longer have chickens.?

Last year, though, the market had baked goods.

?We?ll also have a Holde?man lady baking again this year,? she said. ?Everyone enjoys her baked goods.?

Another highlight from 2014 was a young girl who sold homemade jewelry.

?If we get rain this year, some people might bring extra vegetables from their garden,? Spohn said. ?But the main thing that draws people is the meal, which is done by a group for a fundraiser or private individual.?

The market is sponsored by Tampa Pride with the goal of bringing community members together.

?It?s also a time of fellowship and visiting,? Spohn said.

Market guidelines

Laue recommends that each vendor investigate the Kansas Department of Health and Environment?s guidelines for selling foods safely.

For example, she said, eggs need to be stored at a cool temperature and there are rules regarding salsas, processed or canned foods.

?We don?t want one single bad incident because it would reflect poorly on our farmers market,? Laue said.

She also recommends that people bring their own bags when shopping.