This year was a little different at the farmers’ market. The market family suffered some great losses and we lost a few members here and there due to family problems, but we also gained volunteers. It is difficult to run a market when people that put it together suddenly have other serious obligations; however, a family puts on the farmers’ market, and this summer I was really glad I could be part of that family. I had been a vendor for four years prior for a local coffee shop, but being a market manager was much different. I didn’t simply worry about my own booth and my own problems; I had to find solutions to everyone’s problems. Part of the market is making all the vendors happy. If the vendors were not happy, the market would not be successful. Every vendor needs to feel that they are in a good spot and able to market and sell their product successfully.
Another large part of the market is encouraging a sense of community. During my internship, I worked with the Harvest Center to maintain their greenhouse. Along the way, I learned about their relationship with Mountain Naturals, the local health foods store. Now I understand the importance of backyard growers and small local farmers. Whenever someone produces too much butter lettuce or spinach, the market encouraged him or her to bring their produce to the market co-op table. If they had a large surplus amount of produce, then they were encouraged to take the produce to Mountain Naturals. This concept allows everyone to benefit from locally grown produce, and the producer the make a little bit of extra money.
Besides expanding relationships within the market, I personally made a lot of headway in organizing the market’s resources. For example, there is small house that the market uses as a storage shed along with the city of Woodland Park. I spent a few days cleaning out the entire space and recycling a lot of old flyers or things that were used by the market in 1992! I succeeded in creating more useable space in the shed and making all of the necessary items for each Friday accessible. The regular market manager staff is mainly composed of older women, so it was important that someone moves around some of the heavier boxes and finds more accessible ways for storing materials. Lastly, the Teller County Farmers’ Market Association has an office in central Woodland Park. It’s a small office in a suite of a much larger building, but somehow, we managed to cram a lot of old things in there. Organizing that office was something completed by my supervisor, also my mother, and my co-intern, Anne. It was much needed, and gives the market managers a better place to complete paperwork.
Overall, there were many challenges, but as a group, the Teller Country Farmers’ Market had another successful season. I feel lucky to have experienced and participated in the internship, and to have gained all of the knowledge that I did. Now I have the indoor winter market to look forward too as a volunteer when I go home from school!