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Greenfield Farmers Market gets some expert help for startup

May 7, 2013

Greenfield - Organizers who are setting up a Greenfield Farmers Market in Konkel Park this summer now have a point person to focus on lining up sellers and who will be at the market to handle any glitches or needs.

He's Mike Walker, who has been involved in farmers markets as a business owner, market vendor and a market board representative and has a strong interest in farmers markets.

The Greenfield Common Council awarded him a contract for about $5,000 for the season. Funding for the contract will come from the city's hotel/motel fund, Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said in an email interview.

The use of the money for the market is appropriate if you look at the market as attracting visitors to Greenfield, he said, noting that state law requires a portion of hotel/motel taxes to be used for tourism and public safety.

"No property tax money is involved," he said, and because this is a contract position, no benefits will be provided.

The job at hand

The Greenfield Health Department, which is leading the process of establishing a local farmers market, felt the effort required a special hand.

"During the early planning stages for the market, we quickly realized that having someone on site during market operations was a must and someone who could actively recruit vendors would be beneficial to obtain top-notch market vendors," said Darren Rausch, the department's director.

Because of his strong interest in farmers markets, Walker approached organizers, Rausch said, and it seemed to be a good fit.

"We felt that he would be a great benefit to the farmers market, especially in our first year of operation," he said.

Walker and the department will work closely together to ensure a successful market, Rausch said.

So far, a variety of sellers have been recruited in several areas, including fresh produce, salsas and sauces, natural soaps, dressings and baked goods. Still needed is a vendor to sell and serve fresh coffee, Rausch said.

Live musical entertainment to enhance the market atmosphere is also being sought. Those interested in participating can visit the market website for an application packet, or call the Health Department at (414) 329-5275.

Market and fest schedules

The Greenfield Farmers Market is slated to open June 23 and operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 27 at the park, 5151 W. Layton Ave. A path will be constructed in Konkel Park to accommodate the farmers market and Jansen Fest activities in that location, Rausch said. Construction will begin after Jansen Fest, and a groundbreaking event is planned for late May.

"Assuming good weather and no construction challenges, the path will be open in Konkel Park for the market's opening day," Rausch said.

This week, the Greenfield Farmers Market Planning Committee is celebrating a $30,000 donation from Dan Jansen Family Festival Inc. to create the path. The 19th Annual Dan Jansen Family Fun Fest will be on Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26.

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