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Letter to the editor: Farmers Market had a great inaugural year

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 12:01 am

The volunteer staff of Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market (FWFM) would like to sincerely thank our vendors, volunteers, customers and the community for the overwhelming support and enthusiasm you have shown us in our inaugural year as a farmers market. We are excited to continue to serve Fort Wayne and the region with our summer markets downtown and throughout the community.

Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market started as a grass-roots effort among vendors and market enthusiasts to fulfill the growing demand for fresh local produce and products all year long. An additional goal was to assist these small-business entrepreneurs in keeping their businesses going during the winter when farmers markets are typically closed.

Trying to improve access to fresh food, we made it a priority to find a location in the heart of our city. Through all of our efforts — educating consumers about healthy eating, building the attitude of “Buy Local, Buy Fresh,” providing a destination for residents and visitors and expanding the number of weeks FWFM would be open — we are striving to collaborate and partner with individuals and groups.

Our long-term goal is to find a permanent, indoor, year-round, downtown location and to create a much-needed public market as identified by Fort Wayne Public Market Feasibility Study.

We appreciate the community embracing the standards we’ve set for FWFM.

Standards to ensure vendors must either grow or produce the products they sell and to strive for an 80 percent farm, food or natural products to 20 percent artisans or crafters split of vendors selling at FWFM. These standards are only met by a dedicated staff of volunteers who jury the vendor applications so that the highest-quality mix is coming to the community.

Thank you as well to individuals, organizations and media who are sharing the very important message about farmers markets. We love to see you recognize the need for access to fresh, local food and appreciate you adding to our “volunteer” team who makes this possible.

Last but not least, cheers to all working on the farmers market effort in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana. Fort Wayne has a long and celebrated history of farmers markets, many of which have products and vendors unique to those markets. We encourage the community to “Buy Local, Buy Fresh” at every opportunity, including supporting other farmers markets. Together, we can be small-business incubators to help fuel our economy.

The volunteer staff of Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market, Leigh Rowan, market coordinator