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Farmer's Market to open May 18
RUMFORD -- Members of the River Valley Farmer's Market agreed to open their Friday market to the public beginning on May 18.
At their meeting Wednesday, 10 people gathered to discuss the move of their farmer's market from Mexico to a portion on Exchange Exchange on the Island in Rumford. On March 1, selectmen there gave approval for the market. As a result, Exchange Street, from Congress to River streets, will be closed to motorists from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays from May through October. The market will be open from 1-7 p.m. each Friday through Oct. 26.
Organizer Gail Cutting said that it's critical that they "find ways to atttact people who normally don't go to farmer's markets."
She said they would like to have more farmers who sell eggs and poultry, as well as more crafters. They would also like to find local entertainment during the markets.
The group voted to set membership fees at $30 per farm, to cover the $300 insurance. They also voted for a stall fee of $5, with that money going towards advertising of the farmer's market.
Cutting led discussion of forming a committee to develop a membership drive. People with the farmer's market would seek getting new members, farmers and crafters, at $30 each, as well as associate members for $20, who would support the market for things like signage in exchange to be listed at the farmer's market. Those interested can also contact Cutting at 364-3424.
Colleen Hanlon-Smith, executive director of Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets, told the group that only a few years ago, there were 40 farmer's markets. That number has more than tripled, with over 130 farmer's markets from around the state.
She said the federation shows what has worked at other farmer's markets and will "provide promotions to help you grow, as well as explore avenues of grant funding."
Smith said the use of an EBT machine would also help grow the market, and help low-income families to get the fresh, local produce.
The number of farmers' markets licensed to accept SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits is increasing nationwide. As people discover the benefit of buying fresh, nutritious, local products, farmers and farmers' markets are seizing the opportunity to broaden their customer base by adding a SNAP payment option.
The number of SNAP recipients is at a historic high. Enabling SNAP recipients to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets and farm stands can help market vendors realize substantial revenue increases and provide families in need with fresh, healthful food. Currently, there are more than 1,100 farmers markets and farm stands using EBT machines across the country.
Cutting said an EBT machine has been considered, but she views the River Valley Farmer's Market as a club, not an organization or a non-profit.
The next meeting will take place at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9 in the River Valley Technology Center. Check out River Valley Farmer's Market on Facebook.