New Manager for Emporia Farmers’ Market
Emporia, Kansas - July 21, 2010 - The Emporia Farmers’ Market has hired a new market manger. Tracy Simmons moved to Emporia with her family in 2006. “The Market quickly became one of my favorite Emporia attractions,” says Simmons. She and her husband, attorney Rand Simmons, began working as volunteers at the market in 2009 and Simmons, along with her three children, organized the Logan Avenue 4-H Club Veggie Valet service at the market.
Simmons grew up in rural western Kansas and has fond memories of selling at the market in Dodge City with her mother when the garden crops were bountiful, which was frequently. “My father stopped farming in 1977 and every year thereafter our family garden grew larger and larger,” she says. Simmons has had a long-standing interest in sustainable agriculture. She and her husband have raised pastured poultry and hogs and continue to dabble in gardening. “I don’t have the greenest thumb and that’s one reason I love the Farmers’ Market. I can put the best foods on my table without having to worry about my own weeding,” she says. “I believe inlocal food, not only as a staple of a strong community, but as an answer to improved health and wellbeing for individuals.”
Outgoing Market Manager, Tracey Graham, is leaving to focus more on her work as a program assistant with the Lyon County Extension’s Family Nutrition Program.
Emporia Farmers’ Market (EFM) began as a program of the Learning Connection in 1981. When the future of the organization became uncertain in recent years, it was decided to drop other Learning Connection programs in order to focus on making EFM a strong and sustainable community presence. Graham was hired as the Learning Connection Director and Market Manager in 2007.
Under Graham’s supervision, the market has seen three straight years of record growth. Of the 19 markets this year, 14 have had record breaking sales, including last Saturday’s Annual Homegrown Celebration where vendors surpassed the previous event record by $580.
EFM is one of 12 markets in Kansas that accepts the Vision card. A grant from the Emil Babinger Charitable Trust currently allows Vision customers to purchase two market tokens for the price of one. The market also accepts debit card transactions.
“When I started, my goal was to get the market to a stable place. The Farmers’ Market is an important part—one of the best things—about this community. It is now it great shape and I am happy to hand it off to someone with new ideas and a lot of enthusiasm for the local foods movement,” says Graham.
Simmons is phasing in as Market Manager as Graham is phasing out. The two will work together through year end to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. “Local foods are the future and I think the Emporia market is well-positioned. I would say it’s a leader in the movement for a town this size,” says Simmons. “Emporia is a very friendly town and the market is a great place to meet and get to know your neighbors. I look forward to becoming a better member of this community through this chance to work with and promote the Emporia Farmers’ Market.”
The Emporia Farmers’ Market takes place at the corner of Merchant and 7th Avenue. Wednesday markets open at 5:00 pm and Saturday markets open at 8:00 am. Both markets remain open until vendors sell out, often within the first hour of market start time. The produce and products sold at EFM are grown, made or baked locally, by the vendors. No resale of purchased items is allowed. For information on becoming a vendor at EFM, please call (620) 343-6555.
Emporia Farmers’ Market
702 Commercial St., B-3
Emporia, KS 66801
tlcfh [at] yahoo [dot] com (email)