Tuesday, October 5, 2010
DALLAS -- If a farmers market that just ended its first season can achieve the status of "tradition," Polk County Bounty Market may have done it this summer.
The market faced unpredictable weather and a stunted growing season during its 17-week run starting in June, but still was able to exceed expectations.
"I think we hit a home run this year," Bounty Market Manager Bonnie Dreier said Monday.
Nearly 6,300 potential customers made a trip through the market this season and quite a few returned week after week, Dreier said.
The bounty market was a success in the vendor arena as well.
Dreier was hoping for 18 vendors each week. The market averaged 22 and had 34 total vendors participate at some point during the season.
Bermudez Family Farm was among the vendors that committed to a full season this summer. Malinda Bermudez said this year was so successful the farm, which sold produce, has already decided to return in 2011.
"This market is extremely well organized," Bermudez said, adding that the market was also well promoted.
Fairview Farm Dairy owners Terry and Laurie Carlson were also full-season vendors.
Laurie Carlson said they had been waiting for an opportunity to sell their handmade goat cheeses in a truly local setting. Their farm is a mere mile from the market's site in downtown Dallas.
"I had just envisioned doing this and it came about," Carlson said. "It's very, very cool."
She said they stopped going to another Thursday market in Portland's Pearl District, noting that the bounty market was just as nice and had the benefit of serving hometown customers. Fairview Farm plans to again be a market regular next season.
One aspect of the market Dreier would like to work on for next year is getting downtown businesses more involved. She said increased foot traffic had a positive impact, but it could have been more so.
One business that saw more people on Thursdays was the Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli.
"It has helped a lot," said employee Sidney Mulder, who worked several Thursday night shifts during the season.
She said many of the additional customers were familiar faces, however.
"Vendors have been coming in, not necessarily customers," she said.
Dreier said she will work with area businesses to encourage participation next summer, such as holding sidewalk sales. Her goal is to create an environment similar to Salem's monthly First Wednesday events.
"It brings so many people to downtown and that's something we can make happen," she said.
The market is still waiting to find out if it received a promotional grant from the U.S. Department of Agricultural, which could be used to expand advertising and enable it to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) benefits. Next year, Polk County Bounty Market also will be WIC certified.
So far, the market has 10 full-season vendors confirmed for 2011. A recap meeting with vendors will take place on Oct. 21, where the length of the 2011 season will be discussed. Dreier is seeking customer feedback before the meeting. Suggestions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preliminary plans for 2011 include expanding musical entertainment, hosting more children's activities and continuing cooking demonstrations.
"There will be changes," Dreier said, "good changes, growing changes."