Good Ideas Spread
Jane Black, a writer for The Washington Post with connections to Huntington, wrote an article “Smarter Food: A Farmers Market with a Difference” in January of 2012. That article talked about Local Roots, a local food store in a small town about four hours north of us. The “difference” was the consignment model that allowed farmers more time on their farm and provided small farms a viable return on their hard labor while providing consumers more access to local food at competitive prices.
Jane’s article was a spark to those passionate about local foods in the Huntington, WV community. If they can do it in Wooster, Ohio we can do it in Huntington too! There was a flurry of meetings. A technical assistance grant was secured and soon a team from Huntington was travelling to Wooster for a paid consultation with Local Roots.
The team in Wooster was invaluable to our beginning planning. They shared openly with us and answered our questions and concerns. The information gathered from that trip played a vital role in our successful and quick opening! You know the story from there. The Wild Ramp blossomed, and continues to do so!
And then we got an email from a group from Jonesborough, TN. They heard about The Wild Ramp on their local NPR station. They too would like to open a year round market using the consignment model. They wanted to see how our market runs, and had questions about our business set up.
Soon a team was on its way from the Jonesborough Farmers Market to Huntington. They already have a successful seasonal market. Their city has donated a building for their year round market. They spent a couple hours at our market talking to market manager, Shelly Keeney, about the daily operations, market set up, and challenges. Then Wild Ramp board members met with them for a presentation about opening our market, management, processes, and start up and operating costs.
We wish the Jonesborough market the best of luck! They already have so much in place. We believe their year round market is sure to be a success. While at the market a member from the TN team remarked, “If you could set up all this, starting from nothing, and in less than a year have this successful market, surely we can make a year round market work too.” I believe he is right, and if you’re near Jonesborough be sure to support your local market and farmers!
Local food is not just important to Wooster, Huntington, and Jonesborough. Local food is important to every community. It is important for healthy food. It is important for the local economy, and I’d even argue that it is important to my taste buds! Year round community supported local food markets are a good idea. The idea is spreading. What town will be next?
Stephanie Appleton is a small farmer in the hills of West Virginia. Find more of her family’s adventures at Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.