Farmers Market sets June opening

May. 24, 2014 @ 04:12 PM

The new Vance County Regional Farmers Market facility will open its doors to customers for the first time on Wednesday, June 11.

Vance County Cooperative Extension staff set the date at a meeting held Thursday with prospective vendors to talk about market guidelines and fees and to get an update on crops that would be prepared for sale in the coming weeks.

“We don’t want to start advertising that we are opening and then only have two vendors here,” new market manager Tracy Madigan said.

About 16 farmers attended the meeting. Some, like W.P. Jones, said their crops have been ready for months.

“You won’t be able to please everyone,” Jones said. “You just have to have a happy medium and set a date. If you try to get a date to suit everyone, then you won’t open at all.”

Others were concerned with the fee schedule and wanted to make sure they were making a wise investment.

Extension agent Paul McKenzie announced Vance County Department of Health secured about an $8,000 grant to buy tables and chairs for vendors to use. The cooperative extension wanted to incorporate a nominal fee of $5 for a table and chair replacement fund, in case something happened to them.

“My concern that this is our first year, and we are paying $10 every time we come here,” farmer Cynthia Graham said. “How are people going to know we are here?”

Meeting attendees later agreed to put the table and chair replacement fund on hold until next year.

McKenzie introduced Madigan to the vendors.

Madigan, the daughter of former Vance-Granville Community College dean of students Frank Madigan, is a Henderson resident with a background in group insurance marketing.

She has two degrees from the UNC-Chapel Hill in industrial relations and political science and is a certified employee benefits specialist.

She spent the last eight years as senior marketing executive for a group insurance agency in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I don’t have a lot of experience with the farmers market, but I have always enjoyed the farmers market,” she said. “I am excited about being involved in making it a big part of the community.”

Since becoming farmers market manager in early May, Madigan said she has had her hands full with getting ready for the opening. She called the meeting to get some advice on marketing tactics for the opening day.

She said she had received nine applications and vendor fees so far but wanted that number to grow.

“It’s basically going to be about getting the word out there but on a very limited budget,” Madigan said.

Vendors who attended the meeting said the extension office should put up more signs, make cookbooks and offer vending to church and civic organizations in the community.

“This is a new market, and the first impression is the last impression,” said Wayne Rowland, cooperative extension agricultural technician. “We have to do what is best for the market.”

Anyone that wants to be a vendor or a volunteer can contact Madigan at the Vance County Extension Office at (252) 438-8188.

Contact the writer dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.