Oak Ridge Farmers’ Market: A plan for growth and renewal

A Thriving Market, Inside Historic Jackson Square

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A joint proposal between Jackson Square Business Association and Grow Oak Ridge for the summer Oak Ridge Farmers’ Market.

Our Vision

In many towns in America, the farmers’ market is the centerpiece of the downtown area. Most markets are located inside a square, or on a closed Main Street, so there is crossover pedestrian traffic between stores and the market. This becomes a gathering spot for children and adults, and offers a real “local flavor” to visitors.

Image Credit: Shawn Millsaps

Like Lavender Festival, pictured here, our market could be so beautiful and fun for families if located around the fountain, near the shaded walkways of Jackson Square!

Also, our market could offer nutrition programs like SNAP (food stamps), or Fresh Savings (double SNAP for produce), or the POP (Power of Produce) Club for children, in which kids take 2 bites of a vegetable and get $2 coupons for the market. Health departments may offer blood pressure screenings or nutrition information.[1]

But to produce these types of programs, our farmers need outside help. They simply do not have the time (and often, the inclination) to organize this kind of a market. They need a community organization to do that, and that’s where we come in. Grow Oak Ridge would like to be authorized by the City to produce the Oak Ridge Farmers’ Market as described below.

Market Details:

  • Opening at 9 a.m. (rather than 8 a.m.), inside Jackson Square to create crossover foot traffic. Manager will assign spaces for an orderly market.
  • Square closed for pedestrian traffic only, but always leaving a section for handicapped / limited mobility / Salon parking (see MAP page 26).
  • Market would be for local producers only, meaning they “make it, bake it, or grow it” themselves within 150 miles of the market. All current FARM vendors will be invited, as well as more crafters and prepared food vendors.
  • SNAP and the Fresh Savings Grant will be accepted at the market.
  • FREE weekly children’s programs will be offered, including the POP Club when business sponsorships are available.
  • Special events coordination with Jackson Square businesses. While farmers cannot be moved (it hurts their income tremendously), there is no reason why events cannot occur around the market on the sidewalks. On Lavender Festival Day ONLY, market will move back to the Broadway parking lot. (see MAP, page 26).
  • Selling in the Broadway Ave. parking lot will be prohibited during market season on Saturdays.
  • Grow Oak Ridge LLC will not run a Wednesday market. If FARM wants to continue that tradition, we have no problem with that.

Financial Commitment

  • Grow Oak Ridge will pay for all insurance, signage, SNAP equipment, vendor management tools, advertising, program costs and labor. Investments in this project will total approximately $50,000 in the first year.
  • There is NO cost to the City of Oak Ridge or Jackson Square, except for cooperation, and enforcing a no-sell zone on market days in the Broadway Parking lot.
  • Grow Oak Ridge will charge growers $10 per space, and an extra $5 per truck. This is comparable to Market Square $10-$20, New Harvest Park, $10, and Dixie Lee Farmers’ Markets, $10-15, three very successful markets in the region. Non-farmer vendors would be charged higher rates, as is customary at other markets.
  • Grow Oak Ridge recruits business sponsors to pay for its children’s programs. Past sponsors have included The Ferrell Shop, State Farm Agent Laura Lynn Riden, Thrive Chiropractic, Lilla Rose Hair Accessories, Downtown Hardware, and others.

What we ask from the Oak Ridge City Council

  • We respectfully request that the City Council instruct the City Staff to enter into a 3-year contract for Grow Oak Ridge to manage the market inside Jackson Square, with the city enforcing a no-sell rule in the Broadway Parking Lot on Saturdays during market season, April – November.
  • For adequate planning to occur, we request that this decision be made by Aug. 1, 2018. Thank you for considering this proposal to benefit Oak Ridge.

 

[1] In 2015, over $19.4 million in SNAP redemptions were made at farmers markets across the country, according to the Farmers Market Coalition. Out of the 8,600 markets in 2015, 6,483 of them were authorized to accept SNAP.

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