Boyle County Farmers Market
The Boyle County Farmers Market has moved downtown on Saturdays this season and that small move is making a big change in the market.
“We have always tried to have a festive atmosphere at our regular bypass market with music and activities, but just being downtown I creating an exciting atmosphere at the market,” said market manager John Wyatt. “The market is now more than just a place to pick up what you need and then leave. We now have people those don’t just come out to shop, but stay and visit with the vendors and each other. It is really a community event.”
Being a more active member of the Danville and Boyle County community was the leading reason that the market took a chance to move back to the downtown location for the Saturday market. The move was initiated in 2014 when a group of patron came to the market leaders and asked them to consider relocating to downtown Danville.
“We had begun exploring opportunities to expand the market. We felt after years at the current location on the bypass it was time for a change. We wanted to expand our reach beyond our regular customers and really take advantage of the emphasis on farm to table, so when the community reached out to use we were intrigued,” said John.
The market had always been internally funded and governed, so with the possibility of moving to more of a community-based market, the market’s advisory board began looking at outside funding opportunities. A market member and Community Farm Alliance member recommended the group consider a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant and recommended the group work with KCARD.
“We met with the KCARD staff and began working not only on the grant, but more importantly on a business plan for the market,” explained John. “We knew what we wanted to do, as we transitioned the Saturday market downtown, but sometimes what you are trying to do is not a viable option and that is where KCARD’s experience is really invaluable. KCARD brought to the table extensive knowledge of the grant process, developing a business plan; plus, they are abreast of the current state and local trends in farmers markets.”
“Developing a business plan will help the Boyle County Farmers Market in multiple ways,” stated Nathan Routt, KCARD business development specialist. “It will make completing the future grant applications easier and provide them with a roadmap as they grow the market. Also going through the business planning process unites the market around a set of measurable goals and helps the board focus their energy on developing strategies to achieve those goals.”
In developing the FMPP grant application the board learned that the proposed site for the new Saturday market was considered a food desert by the USDA. This, coupled with the ongoing effort of the community to revitalize the downtown area, made the advisory board realize what a positive impact this move could not only have for the market vendors, but also for the community as a whole.
“Regardless of the outcome of the grant we feel like it is a win-win situation, because the application process gave us a chance to develop a business plan and focus on becoming a true business,” said John. “It has also given us a link to the community that we didn’t have before, and the cooperation between our city and county government has been very encouraging. So far this spring the market has exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
In fact, the market is up to 23 vendors and they have almost 100% vendor participation rate at the market. John believes this is a direct result of the increase they have seen in the Saturday crowd since moving to downtown. He also points out that the market has diversified its offering of farm fresh products and expanded the value-added vendors. The market is also reaching out to support the community by allowing organizations such as 4-H and FFA to set up booths for fund raisers and for the promotion of the organizations. John stressed that the focus now is growing then venue’s quality and defining what we bring tot he community.
“What we are trying to build at the new location is more that just a farmers market, buy a community event,” explained John. “The initial success of the market makes me think we are developing a market that can play a small role in helping to bring out community together. At the same time we have become a stronger business entity, a more vibrant market, and we would not have gotten to this point without the help of KCARD.”
The Boyle County Farmers Market is open on Saturday from 9am-1pm at the Third Street parking lot in downtown Danville, and during the week at the Boyle County Fairgrounds. Keep up with all the activities and learn more about products at the market by “Liking” the Boyle County Farmers Market on Facebook.