Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers' Market

The idea-generator and mini force of nature Lita has turned over the reigns of the Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers' Market to me. So far, so good. My goal is to set the Friends on a stable but upward course, and continue to support the vendors and to raise awareness of this wonderful market in the Bryan/College Station community.

The actual market vendors pursue their goals through the efforts of a parallel organization. The groups work hand and hand, with many common members. The Friends group organizes special events, promote the market at workplaces and community bulletin boards, donate produce to the local food bank, and even prepare baskets of produce to introduce local chefs to possibilities of the market.

A strong core group of volunteers and a dedicated student intern form the core of the Friends. One volunteer, dedicated to community service, is married to a professional musician. Using her contacts, she arranges for live music. A dedicated intern with a strong social conscience and fierce work ethic provides  support, continuity, and a wonderful flair. The vendors are engaging, hard-working, likable, friendly people. I have learned so much from them.

Now, in addition to setting up, staffing for four hours most Saturdays, then tearing down and stowing the information booth, I'm writing a newsletter, helping with the 2012 calendar a bit,  vetting mailing lists, dealing with grant reimbursements, balancing a checking account, and soon will be figuring a system for annual dues payment, recruiting business members, and worrying about finding booth volunteers.

A friend in Arizona, my hiking companion from 25 years ago with whom I recently reconnected, has also carved a niche as indispensable volunteer at her market.
For me, volunteering for the market a labor of love, of course, but often I wish I were, if not retired, working part time. With only 10 hours of sunlight per day, I don't see the sun between 7:30 a.m. Monday to 7:30 a.m Saturday. I can understand why some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, with the oddly appropriate acronym SAD. Staffing the information booth, though, give me four hours of glorious sunlight.
Lifelong blacksmith and market manager Harvey Wise at the anvil.

Local farmer David Elsik with one of his "wearable produce" trademark gourds.

Local musician Joey McGee framed by custom tie-dyed t-shirts from the info booth.

Market manager  (and blacksmith) Harvey Wise, Millican Farms owner Tonya Miller, and Tonya's dad. Tonya has returned to California and will be much missed by the market.


Chile said...

Congratulations on your new gig! Sounds like a lot of responsibility but, as always in such endeavors, likely to be very rewarding. Who can't be happy surrounded by fresh, wholesome foods and the wonderful people who grew it?

Waitress from Mensa said...

Chile, interesting that we reconnected again through one degree of separation via farmers' markets. It is indeed a blast reveling in the great energy at the market.